Commitment to our Community
When the Louisiana Children’s Museum was founded in 1986, it was considered one of the first social justice organizations in our city, with a very distinguishing feature of focusing on the lives and potential of our youngest citizens. In the decades since our founding, the potential of those citizens, our children – especially our black and brown children – has not come close to being realized.
Data tabulated year after year reminds us that Louisiana’s children have spent more than a quarter of a century at the bottom of the “good lists.” Intentional, institutional racism has created insurmountable barriers that have kept our children from reaching their potential. We know that the Louisiana Children’s Museum must be a much stronger part of the solution by addressing this pressing need.
Just as children’s museums serve as town squares, we must also serve as places for meaningful dialogue – talking, listening, hearing, learning, and understanding. Only through genuine trust can we grow comfortable with our discomfort. “Our best” when we opened in 1986 and when we moved to our new facility in 2019, is not enough. We need a “new best” for our community, and especially for our children.
When we put children in the center of the decision-making process, we are forced to think long term. We must think strategically and systemically to ensure a meaningful difference in the outcomes of children, enabling their potential to be fully realized. Too many systems have been shaped for outcomes that have worked against black and brown children - and their “ecosystems” – and have denied them the right of reaching their potential.
At the museum, we observe children and document what they say, draw, and learn – in order to make their thinking more visible. We must also include adults in this documentation process - making our own thinking and learning much more visible. Appallingly, it took the video of George Floyd’s horrific murder for injustice and racism to become more visible, yet there are millions of unnoticed and untold everyday moments - intentionally or unintentionally - that are motivated by personal, institutional, and systemic racism. Individually and collectively, each of us must play a role to ensure that justice, equity, and opportunity are not only visible, but realized by people of color. Black lives matter.
The museum that we closed in March will not be the museum we open in the coming days. So much has changed in our world during the 90 days of being apart. We are invigorated in our work by keeping focused on our youngest citizens and working towards our “new best.” After all, we are all in this together.