Thursday, February 02, 2023

As Black History Month Begins, Booker, Bowman Reintroduce African American History Act

 U.S. Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ). and U.S. Representative Jamaal Bowman (D-NY-16) reintroduced the African American History Act. This legislation provides 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.  

Black Americans and those of the African Diaspora have made countless contributions since the founding of the United States. Unfortunately, throughout history, there have been attempts to purposefully revise or remove African American history within our school curriculums. As recent as this year, those attempts are still being pursued after news of the state of Florida attempting to ban an AP course on African American studies.

“The story of Black people in America is inextricably linked to the story of America. The fullness of this rich history must be told -- both its dark chapters and the light brought by generations of people determined to overcome and make our country better through an ongoing quest for justice,” said Senator Booker. “We have seen this happen far too many times throughout history – where some dismiss our important stories and intentionally change the way history is told to fit political agendas. As we begin Black History Month, I am proud to reintroduce 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.”

“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,” said Representative Jamaal Bowman Ed.D (NY-16). “The truth is under attack by white supremacists attempting to ban Black history at all levels of education, but we know that a democracy cannot exist without access to truth. As a Black man and an educator, I cannot emphasize enough how important it is for this nation to collectively commit to learning from our past. Senator Booker’sand my legislation invests $10 million over 5 years to support African American history education programs that will be available for students, parents, and teachers. The moment we are in requires a clear-eyed effort to ensure that everyone has access to resources and education that accurately recount African American history – including how the Black struggle for freedom has strengthened our society for all Americans, and brought us closer to realizing the potential of our democracy.”

Booker and Bowman’s legislation invests $10 million over 5 years in the National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) to support African American history education programs that are voluntarily available for students, parents, and educators. 

This bill will help the NMAAHC expand and improve upon their work in a variety of ways, including:

  • Developing and maintaining a variety of accessible resources to promote an understanding of African American history. This includes a collection of digital content, housed on the NMAAHC website, to assist educators, students, and families across the country in teaching about and engaging with African American history
  • Engaging with the public through programming, resources, and social media to increase awareness of African American history through a social justice and anti-bias lens
  • Convening experts and creating and disseminating scholarly work
  • Translating new and existing NMAAHC work into multiple languages

Further, the bill supports the NMAAHC’s work to increase national capacity for African American history education, including:

  • Developing and disseminating high-quality pedagogy related to teaching African American history
  • Providing opportunities for Professional Development for early childhood, elementary, and secondary teachers
  • Designing and implementing a teacher fellowship program
  • Engaging with local and state leaders interested in incorporating these resources in curricula

The Original Co-sponsors of this legislation in the Senate include Senators: Menendez (D-NJ), Feinstein (D-CA), Padilla (D-CA), Klobuchar (D-MN), Murphy (D-CT), Van Hollen (D-MD), Sanders (I-VT), Welch (D-VT), and Brown (D-OH).

The full text of the legislation can be viewed here.

For a section-by-section on the legislation, click here.

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