For Immediate Release
December 14, 2021
News: Rep. Bowman Introduces African American History Act, Urges Nation to Tell the Truth About Its Past
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Congressman Jamaal Bowman (NY-16) announced the introduction of the African American History Act and urged leaders across the nation to tell the truth about the United States’ history of racism and white supremacy.
“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 my legislation will serve as a vital component in our fight to do just that,” said Congressman Jamaal Bowman. “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. My legislation invests $10 million over 5 years to support African American history education programs that will be available for students, parents, and teachers. 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 my colleagues to support this legislation and join me in using truth to overcome lies.”
A multiracial democracy that ensures the social, economic, and political rights of all in the United States requires reconciling with American history and America’s original sin of slavery and white supremacy. In order to reconcile together as a nation, it’s critical that there are opportunities and dedicated resources for truth-telling.
Rep. Bowman’s African American History Act 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
“Let’s start with a basic fact: You cannot understand American history without knowing African American history,” said Randi Weingarten, President of the American Federation of Teachers. “Some people are making this a wedge issue - even bullying teachers and trying to stop us from teaching students accurate history. This bill will make sure every student learns about the history and contributions of African Americans throughout the years. And every educator should have the training and tools they need to engage and teach African American history.”
“The American Psychological Association applauds Congressman Bowman for introducing the African American History Act, which would provide funding for increased resources, technical support, professional development, and dissemination of research and teaching materials related to African American History,” said Arthur C. Evans, Jr., PhD, CEO of the American Psychological Association. “An accurate teaching of history is not only vital to our development and well-being as individuals, but also as a nation. Understanding our past provides the ability to make systemic improvements to the lives of all of our citizens, including by eradicating disparities in educational attainment, socio-economic status, and healthcare outcomes.”
“Authentic American pride requires an explicit truth telling that’s not possible without a full understanding of African Americans’ history…which in itself isn’t possible without a commitment such as Rep. Bowman’s African American History Act,” said Mondale Robinson of Black Male Voter Project. “We are obligated to tell the truth and in doing so add yet another safeguard for our democracy.”
“Having access to African American History is imperative for the instruction of our Latino children and parents to modify and understand the dynamics between communities of color,” said Mariana Jusufaj of Mujeres en New Rochelle. “We cannot improve or offer solutions and bridge these communities without understanding our similarities.”
“African American children deserve direct access to African American History. Therefore we fully support Jamaal Bowman African American History Act,” said Tanesha Grant of Parents Supporting Parents NY.
The 53 Original Co-sponsors of this legislation include Representatives: Alma S. Adams, Ph.D, Jake Auchincloss, Karen Bass, Joyce Beatty, Earl Blumenauer, Shontel Brown, Anthony G. Brown, Cori Bush, G.K. Butterfield, Tony Cárdenas, Andre Carson, Yvette Clarke, Emanuel Cleaver II, Steve Cohen, Gerald Connolly, Danny K. Davis, Dwight Evans, Ruben Gallego, Jesús ‘Chuy’ Garcia, Al Green, Steven Horsford, Sheila Jackson Lee, Pramila Jayapal, Eddie Bernice Johnson, Henry C. “Hank” Johnson, Mondaire Jones, Kaiali‘i Kahele , Robin Kelly, Ro Khanna, Brenda Lawrence, Barbara Lee, Andy Levin, Carolyn Maloney, Betty McCollum, James P. McGovern, Gregory W. Meeks, Grace Meng, Gwen Moore, Jerrold Nadler, Eleanor Holmes Norton, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Donald M. Payne Jr., Mark Pocan, Ayanna Pressley, Bobby L. Rush, Jan Schakowsky, David Scott, Bennie G. Thomspon, Rashida Tlaib, Juan Vargas, Bonnie Watson Coleman, Nikema Williams and Frederica Wilson.
Endorsing organizations: 914United, American Federation of Teachers (AFT), Alisa Kesten, Alliance for Quality Education, American Psychological Association (APA), Badass Teachers Association, Beth Haskalah, Bettina Love, Black Male Voter Project, Black to the Future Action Fund, Bronx Climate Justice North, Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP) Children Are More Than Test Scores, Chojy Schroeder-Rochester Coalition for Public Education, Color of Change, Connecticut BATs, Dan Drmacich-Rochester Coalition for Public Education, Diane Venezia, Dr. Edwin M. Quezada - Superintendent of the Yonkers Public Schools, Ed Donnelly, Frank Brodhead - Concerned Families of Westchesters, Hispanic Democrats of Westchester, Huntpoints COmmunity Ambassador, Illinois Families for Public Schools, Indivisible New Rochelle, Indivisible Scarsdale, Indivisible Westchester, Jane Maisel, Jerry Adinkra, Jews for Racial & Economic Justice, Journey for Justice Alliance, Judi Flanders, Lorraine Lopez, Marianne Seck, Mount Vernon City School District, Mujeres en New Rochelle, Muslim Media Corporation, National Action Network Inc., National Urban League, National Women’s Law Center (NWLC), National Education Association, Network for Public Education, NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social, New Rochelle FUSE, New Settlement, North Bronx Racial Justice, New York City Coalition for Educating Families Together, NYCD16-Indivisible, NYS Alliance for Quality Education, Omayra Andino, Oregon BATs, Oregon Save Our Schools, Parents for Public Schools of Greenwood & Leflore County, Inc., Parents Supporting Parents NY, Pastors for Florida children, Rasheedah Brown-Harris, Renee Howell, New Settlements Parent Action Committee, SchoolHouse Connection Support Our Students Alabama, The Coalition for Understanding Racism Through Education, The Collective New Rochelle, Toyin OMolola, United Negro College Fund, Uniting to Save Our Schools, Universal Hip Hop Museum, Warren Mitchell, Wes Bellamy- Our Black Party, Yonkers Family YMCA
For a one-pager on the legislation, click here.
For a section by section on the legislation, click here.