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Rep. John Lewis Introduces Resolution on National Museum of African American History and Culture

September 23, 2016
Press Release

Today, Rep. John Lewis introduced this resolution honoring the dedication of the National Museum of African American History and Culture.  The text of the resolution is attached.  He made this statement upon introduction of the legislation:

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to offer a bipartisan resolution which recognizes the opening of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) on Saturday, September 24, 2016.  I am so proud that over 110 of my colleagues from both sides of the aisle have joined me as original cosponsors.  

This weekend will mark an historic moment in our Nation’s history.  Hundreds of thousands of people will convene in Washington, D.C. on the National Mall to celebrate and welcome this historic institution which is dedicated to documenting African American life, history, art, and culture.  Many people in this body, across the nation, and around the world shall celebrate this great day.  

Tonight, I applaud Dr. Lonnie Bunch, III, the Founding Director, Kinshasha Holman Conwill, the Deputy Director, Cheryl Johnson, Chief of Staff, and the hundreds and thousands of people who worked so hard to make this dream a reality.  For over 10 years, they have toiled day in and day out to prepare for the opening and operation of the National Museum of African American History and Culture.  

I know that the leadership and staff of the Museum have labored tirelessly for years and years – designing the building, raising funds, envisioning the exhibits, collecting artifacts, conducting research, and meeting with the many people across this country and around the world who are so excited about this historic moment.  Mr. Speaker, I thank each and every one of them for their hard work, determination, and dedication to the National Museum of African American History and Culture.

Mr. Speaker, the National Museum of African American History and Culture took over 100 years to evolve from a dream to a reality in the Nation’s Capitol on the National Mall.  The most recent congressional effort began with the late former Congressman Thomas “Mickey” Leland from Texas who revitalized the legislation in 1985.  I was proud to continue his work and fought for 15 years for the bill to pass the House and Senate before finally being signed into law by President George W. Bush.  

It was a long, hard, labor of love, and there were so many wonderful Members on both sides of the aisle and the dome, who helped accomplish this mission, which spanned generations, decades, and movements.  In 1993, the late Senator Paul Martin Simon from Illinois introduced a companion to the House legislation.  Beginning in 2001, former Senator Sam Brownback from Kansas, former Senator Max Cleland from Georgia, and former Senator Chris Dodd from Connecticut joined the House coalition which included Representatives William “Bill” Clay from Missouri, J.C. Watts, Jr. from Oklahoma, and Jack Kingston from Georgia who helped take this bipartisan, bicameral effort across the finish line.  

Mr. Speaker, I would be remiss if I did not also thank some of the former congressional staff who worked for so many years to pass the legislation which authorized the Museum -- Tammy Boyd in my office; Kerri Watson with former Rep. J.C. Watts; LaRochelle Young with former Sen. Sam Brownback: and Donni Turner with former Sen. Max Cleland.  They refused to give up; they refused to give in, and we thank them for their hard work and service. 

On the eve of this long-awaited day, I join with more than 110 of my colleagues in congratulating Smithsonian Institution’s family, the countless staff, and many volunteers of the National Museum of African American History and Culture on their persistence, their determination, and -- very, very soon -- on their success.  

Tonight, we should all be proud, and each and every one of us must take the necessary hours, days, weeks, and months to visit, learn, explore, and reflect on the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture and all that it signifies and entails. 

Mr. Speaker, this is a good day; it is a great day.  Thank you.

PDF iconLewis Resolution on National Museum of African American History and Culture.pdf                                                      

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