Response from MAAH

Hi everyone!

Thanks for signal boosting this particular issue. I did get a response from Diana Parcon at the Museum of African American History. Our exchange is below.

Access is for everyone!


Dear Dr. Pickens,

On behalf of the National Park Service and the Museum of African American History, we would like to express our sincere regret that the experience you had at the Museum on September 15th was less than stellar. Please be assured the National Park and the Museum strive to treat every visitor with respect, and honor the history we serve.

We take visitor comments very seriously, and your letter addressed many concerns for which we are taking immediate steps to remedy.  All of the park rangers, interns and volunteers who work at the Museum will be coached in customer service skills and their public programs audited for content, accuracy and delivery.  As you, so correctly state in your letter, the African Meeting House is a site that carries a considerable cultural weight and the depth of the meaning of it and the people who shaped our history there need to be conveyed to all who visit.

Effective immediately all Museum and Park Service staff will be trained in the proper use and operation of the wheelchair lift so that all who visit will be able to share in the experience comfortably.  Because the building is historic, making modifications to improve accessibility is restricted.  Beacon Hill as a historic community has further restrictions as to how and where we can place informational and directional signs.

Again, we are deeply sorry that your visit to the Museum was less than excellent.  We thank you for sharing your thoughts and concerns with us.  Your feedback will help us improve our services to the public. We would like to offer you free admission on a future visit to the Museum.  We hope that you and your students will visit us again.


Cidney Webster, Supervisory Park Ranger, National Park Service

Diana  C. Parcon, Director of Facility Operations, Museum of African American History


This was my response:

Dear Diana Parcon,

Thank you for your reply.

I can appreciate the efforts you’ve taken to ensure that this does not happen again. I’m certain that you’ll find a way to make MAAH accessible given the constraints of historic Beacon Hill. As you can tell from this experience, access is for everyone.

I have cc’d the other professors who were present. They and I will certainly take advantage of the free admission you’ve offered to us and our students. We will arrange another trip to the museum next term.

We look forward to seeing you.

All best,

Dr. Pickens

About TAPPhD

Therí A. Pickens received her undergraduate degree in Comparative Literature from Princeton University (P'05) and her PhD in Comparative Literature from UCLA (2010). Her research focuses on Arab American and African American literatures and cultures, Disability Studies, philosophy, and literary theory. She recently published her first book, New Body Politics (Routledge, 2014), which investigates the role of the material body in constructing social and political critique. Her critical work has appeared in Disability Studies Quarterly, Al-Jadid, Journal of Canadian Literature, Al-Raida, and, the ground-breaking collection, Blackness and Disability: Critical Examinations and Cultural Interventions. Currently, she is an Assistant Professor of English at Bates College. She is also a creative writer. Her poetry has appeared in Black Renaissance/Renaissance Noire, Save the Date, and Disability Studies Quarterly. Her drama has been performed at the NJ State Theater. She offers courses on Arab American and African American literature. In her introductory courses, she seeks to provide students with information and skills that will enable and empower them to critically and constructively engage difficult topics like race, sexuality, gender, disability, and class. In her upper division courses, she pushes students to synthesize their knowledge from other classes and expand their critical thinking repertoires.
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