Lonnie Bunch, a prominent historian and Belleville native, has been named secretary of the Smithsonian Institution, the first African-American to lead the institution since its founding.
Bunch, 66, who previously founded the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture, will oversee 19 museums and the National Zoo in Washington, D.C., The Washington Post reports.
“I have such a profound love of the Smithsonian,” Bunch told the Post. “I want to help the world see the Smithsonian as I do, as a place that matters, with gifted people who just want to serve their country.”
Born in Newark, Bunch grew up in Belleville, graduating from Belleville High School in 1970. He went on to study at American University and then served in a variety of posts, including serving as the first curator of California’s African-American Museum. He also served on the Commission for the Preservation of the White House.
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