Press Release

Gillibrand Resolution Celebrating 2014 Black History Month Passes U.S. Senate

Feb 27, 2014

Washington, DC – U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) announced today that a resolution she introduced with a bipartisan group of 46 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 Rosa Parks, Shirley Chisolm 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: Senators Kay Hagan (D – NC), Carl Levin (D – MI), Robert Casey, Jr. (D – PA), Johnny Isakson (R – GA), Thad Cochran (R – MS), Mark Begich (D – AK), Lisa Murkowski (D – MD), Patty Murray (D-WA), Benjamin Cardin (D – MD), Mary Landrieu (D – LA), Ron Wyden (D – OR), Barbara Boxer (D – CA), Mark Pryor (D – AR), Chuck Schumer (D – NY), Jeanne Shaheen (D – NH), Sheldon Whitehouse (D – RI), Edward Markey (D – MA), Joe Manchin (D – WV), Robert Menendez (D – NJ), Debbie Stabenow (D – MI), Tim Kaine (D – VA), Maria Cantwell (D – WA), Tammy Baldwin (D – WI), Mark Warner (D-VA), Bill Nelson (D – FL), Tom Coburn (R – OK), Amy Klobuchar (D – MN), Jeff Merkley (D – OR), Mazie Hirono (D – HI), Christopher Coons (D – DE), Richard Durbin (D – IL), John D. Rockefeller (D – WV), Rob Portman (R – OH), Thomas Carper (D – DE), Chuck Grassley (R – IA), Dianne Feinstein (D – CA), Cory Booker (D – NJ), Bernard Sanders (I – VT), Mark Kirk (R – IL), Roger Wicker (R – MS), Al Franken (D – MN), Tim Scott (R-SC), Elizabeth Warren (D – MA), Patrick Leahy (D – VT), Claire McCaskill (D – MO), and Mark Udall (D – CO).


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


Whereas in 1776, people imagined the United States as a new country dedicated to the proposition stated in the Declaration of Independence 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 the first Africans were brought involuntarily to the shores of America as early as the 17th century;


Whereas African Americans suffered enslavement and subsequently faced the injustices of lynch mobs, segregation, and denial of the basic and fundamental rights of citizenship;


Whereas inequalities and injustices in our society still exist today;


Whereas in the face of injustices, people of the United States of good will and of all races have distinguished themselves with a commitment to the noble ideals on which the United States was founded and have courageously fought for the rights and freedom of African Americans;


Whereas African Americans, such as James Beckwourth, Bill Pickett, Lieutenant Colonel Allen Allensworth, and Clara Brown, along with many others, worked against racism to achieve success and have made significant contributions to the economic, educational, political, artistic, literary, scientific, and technological advancements of the United States, including the westward expansion;


Whereas the contributions of African Americans from all walks of life throughout the history of the United States reflect the greatness of the United States;


Whereas Muhammad Ali, Constance Baker Motley, James Baldwin, James Beckwourth, Clara Brown, Ralph Bunche, Shirley Chisholm, Frederick Douglass, W. E. B. Du Bois, Ralph Ellison, Alex Haley, Dorothy Height, Lena Horne, Charles Hamilton Houston, Mahalia Jackson, Martin Luther King, Jr., the Tuskegee Airmen, Thurgood Marshall, Rosa Parks, Bill Pickett, Jackie Robinson, Sojourner Truth, Harriet Tubman, Homer Plessy, the Greensboro Four, Simeon Booker, and Booker T. Washington each lived a life of incandescent greatness;


Whereas many African Americans lived, toiled, and died in obscurity, never achieving the recognition they deserved, and yet paved the way for future generations to succeed;


Whereas pioneers, such as Maya Angelou, Arthur Ashe, Jr., Carol Moseley Braun, Ronald Brown, Ursula Burns, Kenneth Chenault, David Dinkins, Alexis Herman, Mae Jemison, Earvin ‘‘Magic’’ Johnson, Sheila Johnson, James Earl Jones, David Paterson, Marian Wright Edelman, Alice Walker, Oprah Winfrey, General Colin Powell, Dr. Condoleezza Rice, and Clarence Thomas have all benefitted from their forefathers and have served 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;


Whereas African Americans continue to serve the United States at the highest levels of government and military;


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, DC;


Whereas the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass inspired the creation of Negro History Week, the precursor to Black History Month;


Whereas Negro History Week represented the culmination of the efforts of Dr. Carter G. Woodson, the ‘‘Father of Black History’’, to enhance knowledge of Black history through the Journal of Negro History, published by the Association for the Study of African American Life and History, which was founded by Dr. Woodson and Jesse E. Moorland;


Whereas Black History Month, celebrated during the month of February, dates back to 1926 when Dr. Woodson set aside a special period in February to recognize the heritage and achievement of Black people of the United States;


Whereas Dr. Woodson 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 since the founding of the United States, the country imperfectly progressed towards noble goals; and


Whereas the history of the United States is the story of people regularly affirming high ideals, striving to reach such ideals but often failing, and then struggling to come to terms with the disappointment of such failure, before committing to trying again: Now, therefore, be it


Resolved, That the Senate—


(1) acknowledges that all people of the United States are the recipients of the wealth of history provided 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 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 understand the experiences that have shaped the United States; and


(5) agrees that, while the United States began as a divided nation, the United States must—


(A) honor the contribution of all pioneers in the United States who have helped to ensure the legacy of the great United States; and


(B) move forward with purpose, united tirelessly as ‘‘one Nation . . . indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.’’