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house Bill H.R. 4539

Honoring 400 Years of African American Accomplishments

Argument in favor

It is important for the United States to acknowledge the mistakes we have made as a nation, and commit to recognizing the accomplishments and resilience of African Americans.

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07/07/2016
Those who do not learn from their history are bound to repeat it.
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Forbes001's Opinion
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07/11/2016
It is unsettling to read some of the comments. Apparently some people think the only reason for this legislation is to recognize slavery or bring up the past as repayment for historical injustices. Fortunately, this is inaccurate. African Americans are a historically underrepresented group in the curriculum of our schools. This legislation would provide opportunities to recognize contributions to our country that would otherwise be overlooked or relegated to a single month of the year. For example, the creation or improvement of the traffic signal, potato chips, ice cream scoop, open heart surgery, bicycles, air conditioning, and cell phones are all due to African Americans. Life in the US would be far different without these things. While everyone knows Ben Franklin, Lewis & Clark, and Alexander Graham Bell, other important aspects of American culture have not been communicated because history has been written from a white man's viewpoint. People of color, women, those with exceptionalities, and many more have been left out of our cultural memory. If we are all US citizens then we must all be represented in the history of our nation. The 400th anniversary seems like a great place to begin recognizing all Americans as important contributors, as contributors beyond slave labor, as essential contributors to the fabric from which our one flag is woven. For a short article, see http://www.quickenloans.com/blog/black-history-is-everybodys-history-10-little-known-contributions-by-african-americans. To learn more about historical bias, a short list of definitions can be found at http://www.education.pa.gov/Documents/K-12/Career%20and%20Technical%20Education/Perkins/Seven%20Forms%20of%20Bias.pdf and a longer explanation at http://www.sadker.org/curricularbias.html #blacklivesmatter #alllivesmatter
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B.R.'s Opinion
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07/06/2016
Considering that it is a milestone anniversary, I see no issues with acknowledging our history. I think that it is important to do so. However, I feel that care should be taken to present in a matter that educates and not to excite division.
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Argument opposed

There is no point in dwelling on the past. This commission would award grants for programming and scholarly research, but would do nothing real to improve the lives of Americans today.

Jim2423's Opinion
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07/05/2016
I never owned anyone, neither did my ancestors. So I have nothing to apologize for. I treat everyone as a person until they prove different. We all just need to treat each other with respect as a human being until they prove they do not deserve it. This goes for everyone.
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Stephen's Opinion
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07/08/2016
Why focus on just African-Americans? Why not honor immigrants who also contruted to the building of our country? Claiming that this would help us to face the sins of our past is very racist. The vast majority of Americans are not descended from slave owners. How many blacks can prove they are descended from slaves?
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William's Opinion
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07/07/2016
It's time to begin thinking of all as Americans and not hyphenated Americans.
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What is House Bill H.R. 4539?

The 400 Years of African American History Commission Act would establish a federal panel to develop and carry out activities throughout the United States to recognize the 400th anniversary of the arrival of Africans in the English colonies.

The activities would acknowledge the effects of slavery and racial discrimination in the United States, while also celebrating the contributions and accomplishments of African Americans.

The commission would consist of 15 unpaid members and provide grants of up to $20,000 to communities and nonprofit organizations for the development of programs that recognize African American history. Grants would also be available to scholarly institutions for the research, publication, and distribution of information regarding the arrival of Africans in the United States and their contributions to the country.

The commission would complete its activities and issue a final report on July 1, 2020.

Impact

Potential commissioners for this project, nonprofits and communities that would apply for funding from the commission to implement programs, African Americans, other Americans who may be affected by the programs initiated by the bill

Cost of House Bill H.R. 4539

A CBO cost estimate is unavailable.

More Information

In Depth: On August 20, 1619, a Dutch ship arrived in Point Comfort in present-day Hampton, VA. The 20 Africans on board were the first Africans on record to arrive in the North American British Colonies as involuntary laborers.

In the past, Congress has approved and funded federal commissions recognizing the anniversaries of the settlement of Jamestown, VA and the founding of St. Augustine, FL. Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA) said honoring and celebrating African Americans roots is as important as honoring English and Hispanic American history.


Of Note: Sponsoring Rep. Robert Scott (D-VA) said at the bill’s introduction that the commission would plan programs and activities that:

“fully tells the story of African Americans, their contributions to the fabric of our nation, and their resilience over the last 400 years.”


Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA) said that “confronting the sins of our nation’s past is the only sure way to move toward a brighter future.”

The commission would encourage participation among “civic, patriotic, historical, educational, artistic, religious, and economic organizations.”


Media:

Summary by Katie Rose Quandt
(Image Credit: Jimmy Emerson, DVM/ Flickr)

AKA

400 Years of African-American History Commission Act

Official Title

To establish the 400 Years of African-American History Commission, and for other purposes.

bill Progress


  • Not enacted
    The President has not signed this bill
  • The senate has not voted
      senate Committees
      Committee on Energy and Natural Resources
  • The house Passed July 6th, 2016
    Passed by Voice Vote
      house Committees
      Committee on Oversight and Reform
    IntroducedFebruary 11th, 2016

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    #BlackLivesMatter
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    I never owned anyone, neither did my ancestors. So I have nothing to apologize for. I treat everyone as a person until they prove different. We all just need to treat each other with respect as a human being until they prove they do not deserve it. This goes for everyone.
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    I agree with Countable member "Mark," who said: "They are not African Americans they are Americans. The only way for a person to be African American is to have dual citizenship in the USA and a country called Africa, regardless of your skin color. Last I checked their [sic] is no country called Africa. You can be Irish American if you are a citizen of both Ireland and USA. You can be German American if you are a citizen of Germany and USA. You cannot be Mexican American if you are citizen solely of the USA. If you feel the need to specify then you are not truly American. Why not make labels like Gay American, Trans American, Bi American, etc." I could be wrong, but I suspect that this bill is just pandering to the Black Lives Matter people. Question: Do ALL black lives matter? Answer: In theory, yes. In reality, no, apparently. We still have blacks killing blacks. And if you're a CONSERVATIVE black person, the SMITHSONIAN MUSEUM doesn't seem to think your life matters. Read this: Smithsonian Black History Museum Cuts Out Clarence Thomas All black people are leftists. Clarence Thomas is not a leftist. Therefore, Clarence Thomas is not black. So goes the logic at the new Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture Museum. According to The Weekly Standard, Thomas is nowhere to be found in the museum. One of only two black Supreme Court justices in American history, and perhaps the court’s finest modern thinker – yes, even better than Justice Antonin Scalia, whose insistence on stare decisis marred the consistency of his originalism. Thomas is a major judicial figure in the history of the United States. http://www.weeklystandard.com/at-new-smithsonian-museum-justice-thomas-is-an-invisible-man/article/2004712?custom_click=rss?utm_medium=twitter&utm_source=TWSAutoTweet There’s only one reason he’s missing. He’s conservative. That’s the reason that HBO made a full-scale documentary about the discredited Anita Hill charges. It’s why the left gets to constantly insist that Thomas is some sort of idiot for not asking questions during oral argument (a useless procedure, given that the justices have generally made up their minds already). Even the museum includes items from the Anita Hill debacle: Inside the museum, Hill and her supporters receive significant attention, with photos and quotations. And on the museum's web site, you can see a button that reads, "I believe Anita Hill." Museum officials conceded to Circa reporter Raffi Williams that Justice Thomas's own story has "very little presence" in any of the exhibitions. That's putting it rather generously. http://circa.com/politics/people/supreme-court-justice-clarence-thomas-ignored-by-national-museum-of-african-american-histo https://nmaahc.si.edu/explore/collection/search?edan_q=*:*&edan_fq%5B%5D=p.edanmdm.indexedstructured.name:%22Hill,+Anita%22&edan_local=1&op=Search This is the sick double standard of the left. If you’re a leftist black person, you can commit any sin and withstand it; if you’re a prominent conservative black person, you must be memory-holed. That’s because the left identifies people by group characteristic, and insists that it is the great protector of victimized groups. If certain members of those supposed victim groups refuse to see themselves as victims and instead insist on thinking along conservative lines, they must be cast out, lest they represent a living testament to the falsity of leftist thought. And so Thomas disappears. And the same Democratic Party that reams Donald Trump for doubting Barack Obama’s point of origin has no problem disappearing Thomas. After all, it’s racist to pretend that President Obama isn’t authentically African-American; it’s perfectly acceptable to do so to a man born in segregated Georgia on a farm, speaking Gullah as his native tongue, the descendant of American slaves, abandoned by his father, left homeless by a fire, raised by his maternal grandparents. He doesn’t think like Obama does, and so he must be excised. http://www.dailywire.com/news/9760/smithsonian-black-history-museum-cuts-out-clarence-ben-shapiro?utm_source=dwemail&utm_medium=email&utm_content=092916-news&utm_campaign=position4
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    Those who do not learn from their history are bound to repeat it.
    Like (12)
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    It is unsettling to read some of the comments. Apparently some people think the only reason for this legislation is to recognize slavery or bring up the past as repayment for historical injustices. Fortunately, this is inaccurate. African Americans are a historically underrepresented group in the curriculum of our schools. This legislation would provide opportunities to recognize contributions to our country that would otherwise be overlooked or relegated to a single month of the year. For example, the creation or improvement of the traffic signal, potato chips, ice cream scoop, open heart surgery, bicycles, air conditioning, and cell phones are all due to African Americans. Life in the US would be far different without these things. While everyone knows Ben Franklin, Lewis & Clark, and Alexander Graham Bell, other important aspects of American culture have not been communicated because history has been written from a white man's viewpoint. People of color, women, those with exceptionalities, and many more have been left out of our cultural memory. If we are all US citizens then we must all be represented in the history of our nation. The 400th anniversary seems like a great place to begin recognizing all Americans as important contributors, as contributors beyond slave labor, as essential contributors to the fabric from which our one flag is woven. For a short article, see http://www.quickenloans.com/blog/black-history-is-everybodys-history-10-little-known-contributions-by-african-americans. To learn more about historical bias, a short list of definitions can be found at http://www.education.pa.gov/Documents/K-12/Career%20and%20Technical%20Education/Perkins/Seven%20Forms%20of%20Bias.pdf and a longer explanation at http://www.sadker.org/curricularbias.html #blacklivesmatter #alllivesmatter
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    Why focus on just African-Americans? Why not honor immigrants who also contruted to the building of our country? Claiming that this would help us to face the sins of our past is very racist. The vast majority of Americans are not descended from slave owners. How many blacks can prove they are descended from slaves?
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    It's time to begin thinking of all as Americans and not hyphenated Americans.
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    They are not African Americans they are Americans. The only way for a person to be African American is to have dual citizenship in the USA and a country called Africa, regardless of your skin color. Last I checked their is no country called Africa. You can be Irish American if you are a citizen of both Ireland and USA. You can be German American if you are a citizen of Germany and USA. You cannot be Mexican American if you are citizen solely of the USA. If you feel the need to specify then you are not truly American. Why not make labels like Gay American, Trans American, Bi American, etc.
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    It's over stop this race-baiting, dredging up the past, etc. There could be a day every day in which one group didn't treat another perfectly! Enough is enough!
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    This is stupid. We shouldn't honor accomplishments of groups, only individuals. Collectivism is what leads to the us v them mentality that makes people start shooting cops.
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    Yet another feel good proposal that will consume funds for little benefit
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    African Americans are a very significant race in our society, period. African Americans should definitely be recognized for during the time period of the 1960s during the civil rights movement. African Americans were honorably conducting civilized and peaceful protest to signify that they shall be equitable to the human race just as much as whites were as well (WHICH WILL NEVER AND SHOULD NEVER BE FORGOTTEN) . African Americans play an ideal role in the influence in today's society. I mean just think the civil rights movement influenced the mind set of humans today. The civil rights movement was a flourishing mission in the United States to abolish segregation,persecution, and discrimination. If the civil rights movement did not occur our nation would be exemplifying communist ideological actions due to the separation of individuals due to the contingency of ones race, sexual orientation, gender, values, military status, religion, etc. Although the African American race positively impacted this societies values of the meaning of the word "equal" today we must be recognizing Americans patriotic accomplishments broadly. Which would definitely be more appropriate. For instance, we should not be necessarily be stating the appreciative recognition of the confederates during the civil war because they eventually surrendered to the union to declare the liquification of slavery in the United States. NO! We should be recognizing how both the Union and the Confederates came together as Americans to solve the problem and identify the solution that influenced our society today! To reiterate, America is home to some of the most scattered races and ethics groups out there that can all be recognized but America is America and especially as a democracy to recognize accomplishments as a nation together as ALL OF US ARE AMERICANS! "Won't it be wonderful when black history and Native American and Jewish history and all U.S history was taught from one book. Just U.S history"- Maya Angelou "We must never forget that black history is American history. It is the achievements of African Americans that have contributed to our nations greatness"- Yvette Clark. Source for more American history quotes:http://mobile.brainyquote.com/search_results.html?q=American+history, thank you for your time.
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    What about Indian or Irish, or everyone else's accomplishments. Why single out one group?
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    This, specifying a particular race, is racist. Aren't government decisions, legislation, expenditures, policies supposed to be non-racist? Apply to your laws what you apply to us who are outside your federal inner circle; stop the political pandering.
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    Honor all immigrants or none; nothing else is fair.
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    This bill is racist. Equal rights not special rights! #alllivesmatter
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    Can we get one for Irish-Americans too? How about Chinese-Americans, or Native Americans? How about we just acknowledge that there are Human-Americans who did cool stuff for our nation and the rest of the world instead of continuously dividing us up into 'races'. There's only one race of humans left on this earth and we come in an infinite array of hues. One set of hues is not more important than another.
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    I refuse to be bullied by black Americans. Society and government have fallen prey to the media and few but loud voices. There are no programs honoring any other race. We are a country where all are created equal. The black community has liberties and privileges that obstruct other Americans in schools, jobs, and social programs. Honoring 400 years of the African influence when there is nothing for the English, Irish, Spanish, Italian, German, Asian, or any of the other nationalities that comprise and built this country is just going to far. It is one more bill that divides us. We are Americans! One and all. Stop creating more reasons to single out one group over the others.
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    Considering that it is a milestone anniversary, I see no issues with acknowledging our history. I think that it is important to do so. However, I feel that care should be taken to present in a matter that educates and not to excite division.
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    Waste of effort. This is another liberal/PC "everyone gets a ribbon" or "everyone's a winner" crap their doing with kids sports program.
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