WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. Senate unanimously passed U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown’s (D-OH) bipartisan bill to create a national network of historic sites, stories, research facilities and educational programs connected to the African American Civil Rights Movement. The bill now heads to President Trump’s desk to be signed into law.
Brown introduced the bill last year with Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN), and U.S. Reps. Lacy Clay (D-MO-1) and Jason Smith (R-MO-8). The African American Civil Rights Network Act will also establish a National Park Service (NPS) program to educate the public, and provide technical assistance for documenting, preserving and interpreting the history of the Civil Rights Movement.
“By working with our National Park Service to honor the key sites and moments of the Civil Rights Movement, we can help preserve the legacy and struggle of those who risked their lives to demand full and equal participation in our democracy,” said Brown. “It’s important to learn from their stories, and this Network is one small way we can help educate the next generation.”
The bill is supported by the National Trust for Historic Preservation.
“We applaud Sens. Brown and Alexander on passage of the African-American Civil Rights Network Act,” said Thomas J. Cassidy, Vice President, Government Relations and Policy, National Trust for Historic Preservation. “By linking the historic sites, routes, corridors, and regions that defined the struggle for African-American equality, this bill will deepen our understanding of the relationships between the people and places of the modern Civil Rights movement, and help us to better appreciate its context and complexity. Creating programming that ties together sites, activities, and research on civil rights will produce a richer and more complete picture of a critical time in our nation’s history.”
The African American Civil Rights Network would initially look to include historic sites identified by the NPS’ Civil Rights Initiative like Mason Temple in Memphis, TN, where Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered his “Mountaintop” speech the day before his assassination. There is also the opportunity for additional sites to be added like Miami University’s Western Campus in Oxford, OH, where students trained to register African American voters in Mississippi during Freedom Summer.