February 15, 2011

Gillibrand Resolution Celebrating Black History Month Passes U.S. Senate

Gillibrand: “We Remember and Honor African American Pioneers Who Fought for Freedom, Justice, and Equality”

Washington, DC – U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) announced today that a resolution she introduced with more than 30 of her colleagues commemorating Black History Month has unanimously passed the U.S. Senate. The resolution pays tribute to the legacy and contributions of African American pioneers who have fought in the face of hardship and oppression for freedom, equality and opportunity for all Americans.

Senator Gillibrand said, “We cannot move forward on the path to freedom, justice and equality for all without honoring our past and reflecting on the invaluable contributions of African American leaders throughout our nation’s history. From remarkable leaders such as Harriet Tubman, Frederick Douglass, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Shirley Chisholm, and President Barack Obama, to the many unsung heroes who never achieved the recognition they deserved, we pay tribute to all those who have inspired millions and who will continue to change lives for generations to come.”

The resolution was co-sponsored by: Richard Lugar (R-IN), Thad Cochran (R-MS), Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), Olympia Snowe (R-ME), John Kerry (D-MA), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Bill Nelson (D-FL), Mary Landrieu (D-LA), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Tim Johnson (D-SD), Richard Durbin (D-IL), Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ), Mark Udall (D-CO), Roger Wicker (R-MS), Mark Pryor (D-AR), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Chris Coons (D-DE), Charles Schumer (D-NY), Patty Murray (D-WA), Claire McCaskill (D-MO), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Benjamin Cardin (D-MD), Bob Casey (D-PA), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Mark Begich (D-AK), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Mark Kirk (R-IL), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), and Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX).

Below is the full text of Senator Gillibrand’s resolution:

Whereas in 1776, the United States of America was imagined, as stated in the Declaration of Independence, as a new Nation dedicated to the proposition that ‘‘all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness’’;

Whereas on November 19, 1863, President Abraham Lincoln, in reference to the Declaration of Independence, stated,‘‘[f]our score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth, upon this continent, a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal’’;

Whereas the history of this Nation includes injustices and the denial of basic, fundamental rights at odds with the words of the Founders of the Nation and the sacrifices commemorated at Gettysburg, and these injustices include nearly 250 years of slavery, 100 years of lynchings, denial of both fundamental human and civil rights, and withholding of the basic rights of citizenship;

Whereas the vestiges of slavery still exist in the systemic inequalities and injustices in our society;

Whereas for every Shirley Chisholm, Dorothy Height, Constance Baker Motley, Charles Hamilton Houston, Thurgood Marshall, Lena Horne, James Baldwin, W.E.B. Du Bois, Harriet Tubman, Frederick Douglass, Sojourner Truth, Jackie Robinson, or Ralph Bunche,each of whom lived a life of incandescent greatness, many African Americans lived, toiled, and died in obscurity, never achieving the recognition they deserved;

Whereas on November 4, 2008, the people of the United States elected an African American man, Barack Obama, as President of the United States, and African-Americans continue to serve our country at the highest levels of our government and military; and

Whereas William H. Hastie, the first African American to be appointed as a Federal judge, stated, ‘‘[h]istory informs us of past mistakes from which we can learn without repeating

them. It also inspires us and gives confidence and hope bred of victories already won’’: Now, therefore, be it Resolved, That the Senate—

(1) recognizes the importance of Black History Month as an opportunity to reflect on our Nation’s complex history, while remaining hopeful and confident for the path that lies ahead;

(2) acknowledges the significance of Black History Month as an important opportunity to recognize the tremendous contributions of African Americans to the Nation’s history;

(3) encourages the celebration of Black History Month to provide a continuing opportunity for all people in the United States to learn from our past and to understand the experiences that have shaped our Nation; and

(4) calls on citizens to remember that, while this Nation began in division, it must now move forward with purpose, united tirelessly as one Nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all, and to honor the contribution of all American pioneers who help ensure the legacy of these great United States.