Rep. Jamaal Bowman, Sen. Cory Booker make concerted push for African American History Act

EXCLUSIVE: Rep. Bowman brought the bill to the House floor in December of last year.

Rep. Jamaal Bowman and Sen. Cory Booker. (Photo: Getty Images)

Last December, Rep. Jamaal Bowman brought the African American History Act bill to the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives, supported by several stakeholders with roots centered in education and historical preservation.

On Tuesday, the first day of Black History Month, Sen. Cory Booker has introduced the Senate version of the bill, urging state and local leaders to uncover the insidious nuances of racism in America and the steadfast presence of white supremacy via the study of history.

Rep. Bowman announced in a statement, first obtained by theGrio, the overall aims of the African American History Act, which would provide a significant financial investment designed to jumpstart and fortify programs for the benefit of students, teachers, parents, and caretakers.

“It is our moral imperative to tell the truth about our past to finally reconcile with this nation’s history of racism and white nationalism, and our legislation will serve as a vital component in our fight to do just that,” Rep. Bowman shared.

U.S. Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D-NY) (C) speaks during a news conference in front of the U.S. Capitol December 14, 2021 in Washington, DC. Rep. Bowman held to news conference to discuss the “African American History Act.” (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

“The moment we are in requires of us a clear-eyed vision to ensure that not just our children but people of all ages, have access to resources and education that accurately recount African American history. Senator Booker and I’s legislation invests $10 million over 5 years to support African American history education programs that will be available for students, parents, and teachers.

Bowman added, “As a Black man and an educator, I cannot make clear enough how important it is to the success of our democracy for us to come to a collective understanding and agreement that we must take our commitment to learn from our past seriously.

“From the moment Africans were forcefully brought to the Americas as enslaved peoples and the segregation of our society to the economic and agricultural redlining of entire Black communities and the efforts to suppress our vote, it is on us to tell the truth about our entire history. I urge our colleagues to support this legislation and join us in using truth to overcome lies.”

Sen. Booker supplemented Rep. Bowman’s statement with one of his own.

Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) speaks during a news conference about hunger and nutrition outside the U.S. Capitol October 26, 2021 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

“The story of Black people in America is inextricably linked to the story of America. This story must be reckoned with so that we can honestly reflect upon our nation’s past moral wrongs and the long and ongoing quest for justice that has been undertaken by Black Americans,” said Sen. Booker.

“As we begin Black History Month, I am proud to introduce this legislation that will invest in initiatives to make African American history education programs more accessible to the public, help educators incorporate these programs into their curriculum, and develop additional resources focused on Black History for students and families to engage with.” 

The $10 million investment is earmarked for investment into the National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) over a period of five years. 

The programs enacted under the law, should it come to pass, would be available to educators and students alike at their discretion. The NMAAHC, already a vital cog in the ongoing preservation of Black and African American History, would benefit from the law in several ways.

National Museum of African American History and Culture, Washington DC, near the Washington Monument. (Photo by: Joe Sohm/Visions of America/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

The NMAAHC’s website will feature a hub for educators, students, and families across the nation specifically for teaching and learning more about African American History.

Along with the projected plans, the Act will help the NMAAHC extend its reach into the public via resource materials, programming, and social media campaigns.

Other fine points of the law will enlist the input of those in academia at all levels, with the aims of publishing new scholarly works that will be distributed among those in seek. In addition, the law will aid in the translating of new and existing NMAAHC into several languages.

With education needs consistently changing with the times, the law will aid in the development of how best to teach African American history. The law will also establish a pipeline of professional development for a wide range of teachers who service the sectors of early childhood, elementary, and secondary education.

Randi Weingarten, the President of the American Federation of Teachers, Arthur C. Evans, Jr., PhD, CEO of the American Psychological Association, Mondale Robinson of Black Male Voter Project, Mariana Jusufaj of Mujeres en New Rochelle, and Tanesha Grant of Parents Supporting Parents NY all offered statements of support and solidarity that the African American History Act can and will properly provide a clear channel of access to the materials developed under the law for all.

To learn more about the African American History Act, click here.

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