Senate committee passes African American history commission bill

congressThe Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources unanimously passed the bipartisan 400 Years of African American History Commission Act, introduced by U.S. Senators Tim Kaine and Mark Warner, that would establish a commission to plan programs and activities in 2019 across the country to recognize the arrival and influence of Africans and African Americans in America. The bill was also cosponsored by U.S. Senators Roy Blunt and Cory Booker, and a companion version was introduced in the House by U.S. Representative Bobby Scott.

“The arrival of 20 Africans in bondage to Point Comfort, Virginia in 1619 left an indelible mark on our country’s history. This commission will help us understand and learn from that history, including the parts that were tragic and the parts that demonstrated how African Americans triumphed over adversity to make remarkable contributions in every dimension of American life.” said Sen. Kaine. “I am pleased we have moved one step closer to passing this bill so we can get to work ahead of the anniversary.”

“As we approach the 400 year anniversary of a searing moment in our nation’s history, a commission provides us with a chance to acknowledge the struggles and document the victories over adversity by generations of African Americans, ” said Sen. Warner. “I hope this bill continues to move forward so we can begin the important work of commemorating for future generations the valuable contributions made by African Americans to the fabric of this nation.”

The 400 Years of African American History Commission Act would create a commission to recognize the resilience and contributions of African Americans since 1619 – the first documented arrival of Africans to America by way of Point Comfort – as well as acknowledge the painful impact that slavery and laws that enforced racial discrimination have had on our nation’s history. Similar commissions have been established to recognize English & Hispanic heritage.

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