Press Release

Gillibrand Resolution Celebrating 2013 Black History Month Passes U.S. Senate

Feb 14, 2013

Washington, DC – U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) announced today that a resolution she introduced with a bipartisan group of more than 30 of her colleagues commemorating Black History Month has unanimously passed the U.S. Senate. The resolution honors the contributions and achievements of African American pioneers and modern day leaders who have overcome injustices and forged the fight for freedom, equality and opportunity for all Americans.

“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,” said Senator Gillibrand. “From remarkable leaders such as Harriet Tubman 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. We must recommit ourselves as one nation, indivisible, with liberty, justice, and fundamental human rights for all.”

The resolution was co-sponsored by: Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), Al Franken (D-MN), Mary Landrieu (D-LA), Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Benjamin Cardin (D-MD), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Thad Cochran (R-MS), Carl Levin (D-MI), Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ), Chris Coons (D-DE), Brian Schatz (D-HI), Mark Begich (D-AK), Joe Manchin (D-WV), Kay Hagan (D-NC), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Bob Casey (D-PA), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Roger Wicker (R-MS), Mark Udall (D-CO), Bill Nelson (D-FL), Charles Schumer (D-NY), Mark Pryor (D-AR), Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Rob Portman (R-OH), Johnny Isakson (R-GA), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Mark Warner (D-VA), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Claire McCaskill (D-MO), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), and William ‘Mo’ Cowan (D-MA), Jack Reed (D-RI).

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, “Four 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 the United States includes injustices and the denial of basic, fundamental rights at odds with the words of the founders of the United States and the sacrifices commemorated at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania;

Whereas the injustices committed in the United States include approximately 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 inequalities and injustices in our society still exist today;

Whereas Sojourner Truth, Frederick Douglass, Harriet Tubman, W.E.B. Dubois, Booker T. Washington, Charles Hamilton Houston, the Tuskegee Airmen, Lena Horne, Ralph Bunche, Jackie Robinson, Constance Baker Motley, James Baldwin, Dorothy Height, Thurgood Marshall, and Shirley Chisholm each lived a life of incandescent greatness while many African Americans lived, toiled, and died in obscurity, never achieving the recognition they deserved, but paved the way for future generations to succeed;

Whereas many African-American men and women worked against racism to achieve success, such as James Beckwourth, Bill Pickett, Colonel Allen Allensworth, Clara Brown, and many others who were pivotal in the exploration and westward expansion of the United States;

Whereas pioneers such as David Dinkins, Mae Jemison, Arthur Ashe, Oprah Winfrey, James Earl Jones, Clarence Thomas, Ursula Burns, Alice Walker, Ronald Brown, Alexis Herman, Kenneth Chenault, and Magic Johnson have all served as positive beneficiaries of our forefathers and as great role models and leaders for future generations;

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 the United States at the highest levels of the government and Armed Forces;

Whereas Carter G. Woodson, the “Father of Black History”, stated, “We have a wonderful history behind us…. If you are unable to demonstrate to the world that you have this record, the world will say to you, ‘You are not worthy to enjoy the blessings of democracy or anything else.’”;

Whereas Black History Month, celebrated during the month of February, dates back to 1926 when Carter G. Woodson set aside a special period of time in February to recognize the heritage and achievement of black Americans;

Whereas, on February 22, 2012, President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama, along with former First Lady Laura Bush, celebrated the groundbreaking of the National Museum of African American History and Culture on the National Mall in Washington, D.C.;

Whereas Hiram Rhodes Revels, Blanche Kelso Bruce, Edward William Brooke, Carol Moseley Braun, Barack Obama, and Roland Burris have all served as African-American firsts in the exclusive body known as the United States Senate; and

Whereas, on January 2, 2013, Tim Scott became the first African American to serve as Senator of South Carolina, and on February 7, 2013, William “Mo” Cowan became the first African American to represent Massachusetts in the Senate since 1978: Now, therefore, be it

Resolved, That the Senate—

(1) acknowledges that all of the people of the United States are the recipients of the wealth of history given to us by black culture;

(2) recognizes the importance of Black History Month as an opportunity to reflect on the complex history of the United States, while remaining hopeful and confident about the path that lies ahead;

(3) acknowledges the significance of Black History Month as an important opportunity to recognize the tremendous contributions of African Americans to the history of the United States;

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

(5) remembers the injustices that African Americans have endured and commends the African-American community for overcoming those injustices and changing the course and nature of history by forging the fight for equality; and

(6) agrees that while the United States began in division, the United States must now move forward with purpose, united tirelessly as one Nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all, and honor the contribution of all pioneers who help ensure the legacy of these great United States.