First African American named to lead Smithsonian
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Lonnie G. Bunch III has been elected secretary of the Smithsonian Institution, becoming the first African American person to assume that position.

Bunch, 66, is the founding director of the National Museum of African American History and Culture.

The Smithsonian’s Board of Regents approved Bunch's nomination on Tuesday. He succeeds David Skorton, who announced his resignation last December and will leave on June 15.

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Bunch said he was humbled by the new role.

“I am humbled and honored to become the 14th Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution,” he said in a statement. “I am excited to work with the Board of Regents and my colleagues throughout the Institution to build upon its legacy and to ensure that the Smithsonian will be even more relevant and more meaningful and reach more people in the future.”

Bunch will be the first museum director to ascend to secretary in 74 years.

Lonnie Bunch guided, from concept to completion, the complex effort to build the premier museum celebrating African American achievements,” Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts, who also serves as the Smithsonian chancellor, said of Bunch's appointment.

“I look forward to working with him as we approach the Smithsonian’s 175th anniversary, to increase its relevance and role as a beloved American institution and public trust.”