Multiple Bills Introduced in Honor of Black History Month

March 1, 2023

A swath of legislation was introduced in February to promote Black history in honor of Black History Month. Senators Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) and Dick Durbin (D-IL) reintroduced the Springfield Race Riot National Monument Act (S. 384), which would designate the 1908 Springfield Race Riots site as a national monument.

The area near Madison Street and the 10th Street Rail Corridor in Springfield, Illinois, includes structural remains of Black-owned homes burned during the 1908 race riots. Over two days during these riots, the community experienced the shooting deaths and lynching of African Americans, as well as significant destruction of property. The riots also catalyzed civil rights activists to launch meetings that led to the formation of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).

The National Trust endorsed multiple iterations of the legislation and engaged in several Hill meetings over the years, supporting the preservation and permanent protection of this significant site. Most recently, the National Trust supported the preservation of the site in comments to the National Park Service during the public comment period for the special resource study related to this legislation.

Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Representative Jamaal Bowman (D-NY) reintroduced the African American History Act (S. 233 / H.R. 765). This legislation would provide important resources to help educate the American public about the richness and complexity of African American history and the impacts of racism, white supremacy, and the struggle for justice on the fabric of America.

It would invest $10 million over five years in the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture to support African American history education programs. The bill has nine cosponsors in the Senate and 113 in the House.

Senator Benjamin Cardin (D-MD) and Representative Kweisi Mfume (D-MD) introduced the National Council on African American History and Culture Act of 2023 (S. 215 / H.R. 727). This legislation would create a 12-person National Council on African American History and Culture to advise the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) on how they can best amplify the work of Black creators, strengthen teaching and learning in schools to ensure Black history and culture is recognized, and provide critical resources dedicated to preserving Black history.

The council would monitor the work of museums and organizations and make national policy recommendations to foster and promote the understanding and preservation of African American history. The bill has 53 cosponsors in the House.

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