[Congressional Record Volume 143, Number 17 (Tuesday, February 11, 1997)]
[House]
[Pages H436-H444]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]




           THE ROLE OF CIVIL RIGHTS ORGANIZATIONS IN HISTORY

  The SPEAKER pro tempore. Under a previous order of the House, the 
gentleman from New York [Mr. Owens] is recognized for 60 minutes.
  Mr. OWENS. Mr. Speaker, I want to congratulate the gentlewoman from 
California [Ms. Waters] and also the gentleman from Ohio [Mr. Stokes] 
who continues a long tradition of special orders during African-
American History Month. I would like to continue in the same set of 
rules that they were following, whatever they were. If you have a list 
of people, I will follow that list. I will make a few opening remarks 
and then go back to the list as you have come because I think that we 
want continuity between the two sets of special orders.
  Mr. Speaker, I just want to open up by saying I thought that the 
topic chosen by the gentleman from Ohio [Mr. Stokes] relating to civil 
rights organizations and their role in history is a good focus in terms 
of our civil rights organizations ought to be congratulated for what 
they have done up to now.

                              {time}  1630

  They are to be congratulated. We ought to use history to sort of 
reappraise where we are and where we are going.
  Ken Burns today, at a speech at the National Press Club related to 
his forthcoming film on Thomas Jefferson, said that history is a record 
of everything that has happened up to this moment. Everything is 
history, whether you are talking about the history of science, the 
history of technology. So Black History Month is a time when a lot of 
people are reminded of certain kinds of achievements of individual 
African-Americans, achievements related to inventions; related to first 
steps in terms of organizations; first steps related to leadership that 
has been provided in various ways by African-Americans. All that is in 
order.
  But there is another dimension of black history which I think we have 
neglected, which I would like to discuss in greater detail later on, 
and that is our civil rights organizations need some underpinning now 
and would be greatly strengthened if we were to really decide where we 
are in history now, what our past history has meant, and how we should 
use the lessons of our past history.
  South Africa has a Truth and Reconciliation Commission, and the Truth 
and Reconciliation Commission is designed to help get the country on a 
smooth path toward the future and not have it become bogged down in its 
past. I think it is most unfortunate that at the end of the Civil War 
America did not establish a Truth and Reconciliation Commission, 
because some of the problems we are facing now are rooted in an unjust 
history: 235 years of slavery.
  What did 235 years of slavery do to a people, and how are the 
repercussions of 235 years of slavery now impacting upon those same 
people; and can we go on and really deal with our problems currently if 
we do not really force America to own up to that history? We need a 
Truth and Reconciliation Commission in order to get on with the 
discussion of reparations.
  We have had some legislation introduced by John Conyers and others 
talking about reparations. That seems like such a radical idea that 
most people dismiss it right away. We had some steps toward reparations 
when we voted to try to do something to compensate the victims of 
internment in Japanese camps during World War II. We made some steps in 
that direction. I do not want to go into reparations and alienate 
everybody. Let us just have a Truth and Reconciliation Commission which 
might come to the conclusion that reparations should also be on the 
agenda.
  But in that Truth and Reconciliation Commission we should talk about 
some other things, like 232 years of slavery. What did that mean in 
terms of accumulation of wealth? Wealth is accumulated, certain books 
have told us recently, by passing it from one generation to another. 
Most wealth is accumulated that way. People do not really work hard and 
accumulate their wealth; they do get a break from the previous 
generation. If you have 232 years of slavery, that means there was 232 
years where no wealth was passed on from one generation to another.
  Is it any wonder then that African-Americans, the middle-class 
African-Americans are becoming closer and closer to white Americans, 
mainstream Americans, in income, the money they earn through salaries 
and wages, but there is a great gap between white mainstream Americans 
and African-American middle-class people in terms of wealth. There is a 
great gap. The gap is explained by the fact that there were 235 years 
where no wealth was accumulated.
  We ought to take a look at that. We ought to take a look at what that 
means to the very poorest people of course; we ought to take a look at 
what it meant in terms of the impact on a people where their children 
were denied education and laws were made to make it a crime to teach 
slaves to read. All that may be examined in the Truth and 
Reconciliation Commission.
  Civil rights organizations I think really need underpinning now of, 
really, where are we? How hard should we fight against laws which take 
away aid to families with dependent children. How does that relate to 
race? Is there a race base for demanding that you do something for the 
poorest people, especially those who are descendents of slaves. Is 
there a reason why we should make greater demands for education?
  The President says he is going to move Head Start by the year 2000 to 
the point where Head Start will encompass 1 million children. Well, 
should not something be done in terms of compensation in recognizing 
the great need for special treatment for the descendents of slaves. 
Those children ought to be taken into Head Start right away. There are 
a number of ideas like that which would grow out of an understanding 
that the civil rights agenda should be broadened and the civil rights 
agenda should take into consideration what the history of slavery did 
to the people who are major victims of denial of those rights.
  I am going to come back to this later on, but we have several 
colleagues here who are waiting to speak, and I would be happy to take 
them first. I am pleased to have at this point remarks on African-
American history month from our colleague from New York, the Honorable 
Carolyn Maloney.
  Mrs. MALONEY of New York. Mr. Speaker, I rise today in honor of Black 
History Month, and I thank my colleagues, Congressman Owens, 
Congresswoman Waters, and Congressman Stokes, for organizing this 
Special Order.
  There are many black Americans who are important to our history, and 
I am pleased to speak of four African-American women who hail from the 
great State of New York. These women, ranging from the early 1800's to 
the present day, have each left their mark on New York and America.
  Sojourner Truth was born a slave in Huron, NY. After receiving her 
freedom, she moved to New York City where she dedicated her life to the 
abolition of slavery and suffrage for all women. She was the first 
person to publicly acknowledge the relationship between slavery with 
the oppression of all women.
  After the Civil War she worked tirelessly for women's rights, gaining 
the support and respect of fellow suffragettes, Susan B. Anthony and 
Elizabeth Cady Stanton. At the Equal Rights Association in 1867 she 
gave one of the most quoted speeches in feminist history, ``Ain't I A 
Woman''.
  Lorraine Hansberry was the first African-American female Broadway 
playwright. Her play, ``Raisin in the Sun,'' opened in 1959 to 
outstanding reviews. It focused on discrimination and family values. 
She was the first black and the youngest person to win the Best Play of 
the Year Award of the New York drama critics. Though she died in New 
York City at the age of 34, Hansberry opened the door for all future 
young black playwrights.
  Shirley Chisholm has the distinct honor of being the first black 
woman elected to Congress and the first

[[Page H437]]

woman to run for President of the United States. She was elected to the 
New York State Assembly in 1964 and went to Congress in 1968. She was 
an early member of the National Organization for Women and the National 
Women's Political Caucus. A former Head Start teacher, she did a great 
deal to help the children of this Nation. Congresswoman Chisholm not 
only paved the way for more black Representatives, but for all women.
  Judge Constance Baker Motley attended New York University and 
Columbia. She worked for the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, where she won 
seven lawsuits before the U.S. Supreme Court. In 1964 she became the 
first black woman elected to the New York State Senate. A year later 
she became the first black woman elected as Manhattan Borough 
president. In 1966 President Johnson nominated her to the U.S. District 
Court for the Southern district of New York, making her the first woman 
named to the Southern District bench and the first black woman named to 
the Federal bench. In 1993 Judge Motley was inducted into the National 
Women's Hall of Fame.
  From Sojourner Truth to Judge Constance Baker Motley, these women 
have worked to make our lives better. Civil rights is not just a place 
in time; it is an outlook we should all strive toward in our life. I 
salute them and all who are here in our collective appreciation of 
Black History Month, and I thank my colleagues for organizing it.
  Mr. OWENS. Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to yield to continue this 
discussion on African-American history to the gentleman from American 
Samoa (Mr. Faleomavaega).
  Mr. FALEOMAVAEGA. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman and my good 
friend from New York. I also would like to thank the gentleman from 
Ohio, and Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentlewoman from California not only 
as the chairperson of the Congressional Black Caucus, but someone not 
only as a national leader whom I have the highest regard and respect. I 
certainly appreciate this opportunity of sharing my sentiments 
concerning Black History Month.
  Mr. Speaker, I too would like to echo the sentiments expressed 
earlier from the gentleman from Illinois, [Mr. Jackson], as he paid a 
special tribute to my good friend and colleague from Georgia, 
Congressman John Lewis, certainly one of the living giants of the civil 
rights movement. Mr. Speaker, 6 years ago the gentleman from Georgia 
invited me to join him to visit Selma, AL, to commemorate the 25th 
anniversary of that famous march from Selma, and it was one of the most 
spiritual experiences I have ever had in my life. I would like to urge 
and encourage my colleagues to go to Selma, AL. It will give you a real 
sense of what the civil rights movement is all about.
  Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague for the opportunity 
this afternoon to speak at this year's congressional recognition of 
Black History Month. The idea of celebrating black history began in 
1926, where noted educator Dr. Carter Woodson set aside a special 
period of time in February, February because that was the birth month 
of Frederick C. Douglass and of Abraham Lincoln, to recognize the 
heritage, the achievements and the contributions of African-Americans.
  African-American history is of course, Mr. Speaker, a much larger 
subject than 1 month could possibly encompass. We all know the names of 
famous African-Americans, artists, performers, and writers such as Paul 
Robeson, Lena Horne, James Earl Jones, Cicely Tyson, Imamu Amiri 
Baraka, Paul Laurence Dunbar, Zora Neale Hurston, Maya Angelou, Jessye 
Norman, Duke Ellington, and William Grant Still. African-American 
athletes like Jackie Robinson, Jackie Joyner-Kersee, and Wilma Clodean 
Rudolph broke records and barriers in their striving for excellence.
  African-Americans have expanded all of our horizons as explorers: 
Guion S. Bluford, Jr. was the first African-American to fly in space. 
Mathew Alexander Henson, a member of Adm. Robert Peary's fourth 
expedition, may have been the first person to set foot on the North 
Pole. From George Washington Carver, recipient of the Roosevelt Medal 
for Distinguished Service to Science, to George Carruthers, the 
physicist and the designer of the Apollo 16 lunar surface ultraviolet 
camera/spectrograph that was placed on the moon in April 1972, African-
Americans have made significant contributions in the areas of science 
and technology.
  African-American political activists like Nat Turner and Fannie Lou 
Hamer changed the course of history. Leaders such as Adam Clayton 
Powell, Joseph Hayne Rainey, the first African-American Member of 
Congress, Ralph Bunche and Shirley Chisholm, and activists like Martin 
Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X, and A. Philip Randolph and Sojourner Truth 
moved their people forward with them. All of these stories are 
inspiring to all of us.
  Mr. Speaker, the contributions of African-Americans to all aspects of 
U.S. culture have been significant, and all of us as Americans have 
been moved forward by the achievements of these great individuals. 
However, the history of African-American people is much more than 
simply the stories of great and famous individuals.
  The people whose names we never hear, the women who participated in 
the Birmingham bus boycott led by the late Dr. King, the many 
individuals who, inspired by the actions of Rosa Parks, refused any 
longer to sit in the back of the bus; the people who sat in at 
segregated lunch counters; the people who stood firm in the face of 
fire hoses and growling dogs; the people who registered for college and 
went to their classes; the people who registered to vote and came to 
the polling places on election day, these are also people worthy of 
celebration and worthy of a place in history.
  Mr. Speaker, not all children will grow up to be Martin Luther King, 
Jr., or Shirley Chisholm, but all children should grow up knowing that 
their greatness is a part of our heritage, that its celebration is not 
confined to only 1 month out of the year, and that the dreams and 
aspirations of African-Americans are as worthy of fulfillment and as 
likely to come true as the dreams and aspirations of all of our fellow 
Americans.
  So as we celebrate Black History Month, Mr. Speaker, let us also keep 
in mind those whose names are not in the books, those whose private and 
unpublicized heroism in word and deed also contributed to this story 
which all Americans should celebrate and all of which all Americans can 
be proud.

                              {time}  1645

  Mr. OWENS. I thank the gentleman from American Samoa. Mr. Speaker, I 
am pleased to yield to the gentleman from Connecticut [Mr. Maloney].
  (Mr. MALONEY of Connecticut asked and was given permission to revise 
and extend his remarks.)
  Mr. MALONEY of Connecticut. Mr. Speaker, I would very much like to 
extend my thanks and appreciation to the gentleman from New York and 
the other Members of this Chamber who have organized this special order 
today.
  Mr. Speaker, this year's theme for Black History Month is ``African-
Americans and Civil Rights: A Reappraisal.'' It is most fitting, 
therefore, to take a moment to honor a very special woman, a longtime 
resident of my hometown, who is not only acclaimed for her glorious 
God-given voice, but for the historic contributions she made on behalf 
of all African-Americans.
  Marian Anderson, of Danbury, CT, who was the first African-American 
singer to perform with the Metropolitan Opera, stands out as a leading 
example of African-American pride and achievement. This month would 
have marked, or does mark, the 100th anniversary of her birth.
  As a young woman developing her singing career, Ms. Anderson faced 
many obstacles and was often the victim of racism. Probably the most 
widely known incident occurred in 1939, when, after a triumphant 
appearance through Europe and the Soviet Union, she was prevented from 
performing in Washington's Constitutional Hall by its owners. To 
apologize for that mistreatment, First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt invited 
Ms. Anderson to perform at the Lincoln Memorial on Easter Sunday, 1939.
  Ms. Anderson proudly sang to an audience of 75,000 people, while 
millions more listened over national radio. Her inspirational 
performance that April day is considered by historians as the first 
crucial victory of the modern civil rights movement.
  Even after her artistry was recognized in the United States, Ms. 
Anderson still faced racial prejudice on a

[[Page H438]]

daily basis. Well into her career, she was turned away at restaurants 
and hotels. Even America's opera houses remained closed to her until 
Rudolph Bing invited her to sing at the Metropolitan Opera.
  Throughout all of her trials and struggles, Ms. Anderson did not give 
up. Her undaunted spirit fought on and her determination opened doors 
for future black artists that had been firmly bolted shut.
  The soprano Leontyne Pryce, one of the earliest artists to profit 
from Ms. Anderson's efforts, once said, ``Her example of 
professionalism, uncompromising standards, overcoming obstacles, 
persistence, resiliency, and undaunted spirit inspired me to believe 
that I could achieve goals that otherwise would have been unthought 
of.''
  Soprano Jessye Norman said, ``At age 10 I heard for the first time 
the singing of Marian Anderson on a recording. I listened, thinking, 
this can't be just a voice, so rich and beautiful. It was a revelation, 
and I wept.''
  Later in life, Ms. Anderson was named a delegate to the United 
Nations by President Dwight D. Eisenhower and was the recipient of the 
Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Carter. She died in 1993, 
but her successful fight to give every individual an opportunity to 
achieve their own greatness helped our country become a stronger 
nation. Her contributions will live on forever.
  As President Clinton pointed out in his State of the Union Address 
last week, American race relations have certainly come a long way, but 
our country is still plagued by bigotry and intolerance. Each of us 
must learn from the example set by Marian Anderson to eliminate hate 
and violence and create a stronger, more tolerant America.
  Mr. OWENS. Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the gentleman from 
Connecticut, and again congratulate him on his hard-won race in order 
to get to this House of Representatives.
  Continuing the discussion on Black History Month, African-Americans, 
and civil rights, I am pleased to yield to the gentleman from Texas, 
Mr. Ken Bentsen.
  (Mr. BENTSEN asked and was given permission to revise and extend his 
remarks.)
  Mr. BENTSEN. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman for yielding.
  Mr. Speaker, I rise to join our Nation in celebrating Black History 
Month. Today I want to recognize and pay tribute to community leaders 
in Houston whose vast accomplishments and contributions have helped to 
revitalize a very large segment of our city.
  In 1996, Pastors James Dixon, Harvey Clemons, Bill Lawson, Ed 
Lockett, and Kirbyjon Caldwell were awarded the Mickey Leland 
Humanitarian Award by the Houston chapter of the NAACP for their 
outstanding contributions to the community.
  While all are deserving of recognition, Reverend Dixon for his work 
in north Houston, Reverend Clemons for his work with the Fifth Ward 
Development Corporation, Rev. Ed Lockett, who runs the Sunnyside Up 
Corp., and of course, Rev. Bill Lawson, the dean of Houston's clergy, 
and for many, the conscience of the city as well, I want to pay special 
tribute and highlight as an example the contributions of Pastor 
Kirbyjon Caldwell of the Windsor Village United Methodist Church.
  Reared in Kashmere Gardens, a low-income neighborhood in Houston, 
Pastor Caldwell, at age 43, is today one of Houston's most prominent 
clergymen. Pastor Caldwell has emerged as a strong advocate for civil 
rights in Houston. His intellect and creativity and caring have made 
him a leader in the quest for civil rights through economic empowerment 
and cultural awareness.
  Pastor Caldwell is best known for founding the Power Center, a multi-
million dollar community service facility located in southwest Houston, 
in my district. The 104,000 square foot complex meets a tremendous 
range of community needs, including education through the Houston 
Community College, financial services through Texas Commerce Bank, a 
Federal women, infants and children nutrition program, and health care 
through Herman Hospital, as well as a private grade school. Through the 
Power Center, Pastor Caldwell is making the connection between economic 
empowerment and political empowerment.
  A former investment banker on Wall Street, Pastor Caldwell used his 
banking and financial background to persuade the property owners to 
donate a $4.4 million building, a former KMart, to realize his dream. 
The Power Center will generate some $26.7 million in cash flow for the 
Windsor Village/South Post Oak community over the next 3 years. While 
constructing the Power Center, Mr. Caldwell started several nonprofit 
ventures, including a shelter for abused children and low-income 
housing developments. These nonprofit ventures created jobs for more 
than 125 people. In addition, the Power Center has provided hundreds of 
jobs, ranking it among the largest black-owned employers in Houston.
  In the pulpit, Pastor Caldwell delivers potent sermons filled with 
the vernacular of modern life. His preaching style, along with a vast 
variety of community outreach programs, attracts people from all walks 
of life.
  As we reappraise African-Americans and civil rights in 1997, it is 
also important to recognize the triumphs that have been made in the 
past by leaders such as Dr. Martin Luther King, the Honorable Barbara 
Jordan, and Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall.
  Nonetheless, we should not forget those present-day leaders such as 
Rev. Kirbyjon Caldwell, who may not be mentioned in the pages of 
American history now, but are working just as hard to open the doors of 
opportunity for all Americans through economic empowerment and cultural 
awareness.
  Mr. OWENS. I thank the gentleman from Texas, Mr. Speaker. I am 
pleased to yield to the gentleman from North Carolina, [Mr. Mel Watt].
  Mr. WATT of North Carolina. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman from 
New York for yielding to me.
  Mr. Speaker, I start kind of like the author of the cartoon, Curtis, 
with the understanding that you really cannot do justice to practice 
Black History Month in either 3 minutes or a month. The contributions 
that black people have made to this country require an ongoing 
education and input about the many facets of the contributions.
  So I want to limit my remarks today to a very, very narrow window, 
and that is some things that came out of my congressional district in 
Greensboro, NC, starting on February 1, 1960 at the Woolworth lunch 
counter where the sit-ins started, to give us the right to be able to 
go into a restaurant and sit down and have a meal. I mean, this is 
something that in 1996 is so far removed from anything that we can 
imagine that so many people have started to take it for granted.
  It was at the Woolworth's lunch counter that these sit-ins started on 
February 1, 1960, and they were started by four students who were 
attending the North Carolina A&T State University in Greensboro, NC. 
Those four students were freshmen Ezell Blair, Junior; David L. 
Richmond; Joseph McNeil; and Franklin McCain. Franklin McCain happens 
to be a personal friend of mine who now resides in Charlotte, NC. But 
all of these four individuals started a movement that picked up steam, 
gained momentum, that led ultimately on July 25, 1960 to black people 
being able to go into the Woolworth's store in Greensboro and sit down 
at the lunch counter and have a hot dog, buy a drink, things that we 
now take for granted.

  Throughout the South, this kind of movement was going on all across 
the South to provide that opportunity. To these four gentlemen, we will 
forever be in debt.
  North Carolina A&T is one of six historically black colleges and 
universities in my congressional district in North Carolina. I could 
spend hours talking about the contributions of graduates of any one of 
these institutions, but just to focus on North Carolina A&T, since that 
is where I started, that is where our current colleagues, the gentleman 
from Illinois, Mr. Jesse Jackson Jr., and the gentleman from New York, 
Mr. Ed Towns, your colleague, graduated. They are illustrious graduates 
of North Carolina A&T.
  Former astronaut Ronald McNair, to whom we all owe so much in the 
field of space exploration, is a graduate of that institution. State 
Justice Henry Frye, on our State supreme court in North Carolina, is a 
graduate of North Carolina A&T university. I could go on and on and on 
talking about these people, but I will end, and reemphasize

[[Page H439]]

what the Curtis cartoons have been saying throughout this year: We 
cannot do justice to black history by having a month for it. We all 
have to give it the kind of ongoing respect that the kinds of 
contributions that our people have made over the years to the history, 
the culture, the music, the vitality, and the economy of this United 
States, deserve.
  The more we can come to grips with that, the more we can put this, 
parts of history like the sit-ins, behind us, and we can all become one 
Nation, indivisible, under God, with liberty and justice for all. I 
thank the gentleman for yielding time to me.
  Mr. OWENS. I thank the gentleman. I hope we will never put the spirit 
of the sit-ins behind us. I do hope the gentleman will take out 
additional time. He could spend a whole hour on the spirit of A&T and 
the first big sit-in.
  I think we may need to instruct this generation and this group of 
people right here, in the year 1997, that there is a time when we must 
go down, we must confront the authorities. We may have to confront the 
authorities on the attempt to remove Medicaid as an entitlement. I 
think there are some points in the history right now that we are going 
to have to come to grips with that are just as important as our civil 
rights, such as the importance of the right to life that emanates from 
having health care for everybody. There may be a number of other issues 
where we may have to follow history, and understand there is a time 
when we confront the authorities and tell them we will not accept this.
  Mr. WATT of North Carolina. I will just reaffirm what the gentleman 
has said, Mr. Speaker, if he will continue to yield. It took a 
tremendous amount of guts and determination for these four students to 
stand up and confront a system. The need for us to continue to confront 
issues head on, without fear of intimidation or being called down by 
our colleagues, even here in the House, certainly should be apparent to 
us.
  Mr. OWENS. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman. I lived in the South 
for 20 years. I was born in Memphis, TN. I know all about the kind of 
courage it took to stand up at that lunch counter.
  Mr. Speaker, I yield to the gentleman from New Jersey, Mr. Donald 
Payne, the distinguished former chairman of the Congressional Black 
Caucus.

                              {time}  1700

  Mr. PAYNE. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to join my colleagues in 
commemorating Black History Month. Let me take special attention to the 
gentleman from Ohio [Mr. Stokes], who has led us in this over the years 
and of course our distinguished chairwoman of the Congressional Black 
Caucus, the gentlewoman from California [Ms. Waters], for organizing 
this, too, and thank the gentleman from New York for yielding time to 
me.
  Much has happened over the course of the year since we last gathered 
for this commemoration, had both successes and setbacks. But we stand 
here today stronger and more determined than ever to continue moving 
ahead regardless of the obstacles we face.
  This past year the Congressional Black Caucus took action on a number 
of issues, particularly the devastating fires which ravaged African-
American churches throughout this Nation, mostly in the southern part 
of our country, but all over. In response to the caucus, we galvanized 
forces to focus national attention on the magnitude of this tragedy. 
Our actions led to the passage of new legislation to strengthen Federal 
law enforcement so that these cases could be solved.
  We convened public hearings and pointed out that during the early 
days of the civil rights movement, as we heard Mel Watt talk about, the 
churches were places where we met and the churches were places where we 
gathered not only for worship but for strategy. We cannot forget the 
16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, AL, in the mid-1960's, four 
little girls, Addie Mae Collins, Denise McNair, Carole Robertson, and 
Cynthia Wesley, lost their lives.
  Another young lady, Sarah Collins, was partially blinded, and so that 
brought back those dark days when there was an attack. This year, the 
past year we also were disappointed by several court hearings 
undermining the Voting Rights Act guaranteeing minorities fair 
participation in the political process. While we remain deeply 
concerned about the dismantling of majority-minority voting districts, 
we are pleased at the determination of our colleagues who, in spite of 
the blatant attempt to turn us back, were still returned to office.
  Over this past year there were also assaults on affirmative action, 
which helps minorities and women move ahead to make this country a 
greater place. However, despite much misinformation from opponents, we 
have worked hard to educate the public to understand that affirmative 
action is about fair opportunity and not about quotas or unfair 
advantages.
  The theme chosen this year for Black History Month is African-
Americans and civil rights, a reappraisal. It is certainly fitting 
during this month that we reassess where we have been, where we are, 
and where we want to be. We remember with deep respect those in the 
early history who never gave up in their quest for justice and equal 
rights for African-Americans. We were inspired by the courage of the 
great abolitionist and orator, Sojourner Truth. Born in 1797, she 
traveled across this country in a tireless crusade against slavery.
  In that same era, my home city of Newark, NJ, was the home to an 
abolitionist, journalist, and a minister by the name of Samuel Cornish. 
He became the pastor of the First Presbyterian Church on Plane Street 
working for the advancement of the black community.
  Another prominent figure who spent time in New Jersey was the famous 
fugitive slave, abolitionist, nurse, and social reformer Harriet 
Tubman, who spent some of her retiring days in New Jersey. She made 
about 19 trips to various States to lead slaves to freedom, and her 
work with the Underground Railroad brought her to New Jersey between 
1849 and 1852.
  We remember Booker T. Washington and W.E.B. DuBois as early people 
who had different ways of going about bringing black people to their 
final fruition, but we feel that they both earned a place in history.
  As I conclude, I just want to mention one last person who will be 
celebrating her 84th birthday very soon, just celebrated it, Mrs. Rosa 
Parks, who refused to give up her seat on a bus in Montgomery. She 
changed the course of history.
  Soon we will enter a new era of history with the dawn of the 21st 
century. President Clinton in his State of the Union Address talked 
about our Nation finding strength in diversity. As we celebrate the 
contributions of African-Americans to this Nation, we must also renew 
our commitment to the next generation, our children. African-American 
children must get an education, must have skills to compete in the 
rapidly advancing world of technology. They look to us just as we look 
to those before us for hope and inspiration. And therefore, it has been 
a long journey but we will continue to move ahead with faith and 
determination.
  Mr. OWENS. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman from New Jersey for his 
most appropriate remarks. I think it is very important that you 
mentioned the burning of the churches.
  I would like to point out that the reaction to the burning of the 
churches, the people who started the burning of the churches know that 
the church is the center of the black life all across the country. They 
wanted to get at the core of our organization and inspiration, and it 
was a devastating blow to go after our churches. But our Government is 
to be congratulated, our President is to be congratulated, the general 
public, foundations, and various people are to be congratulated for the 
manner in which we have reacted.
  If only we had had a similar reaction to the Ku Klux Klan and the 
kind of violence perpetrated after the freeing of the slaves, history 
might tell a different story. If only our Government had not 
capitulated, if only it stood behind General Howard and General 
Armstrong and Thaddeus Stevens from Pennsylvania and Charles Sumner 
from Massachusetts and resisted the kind of violent response of the 
white former Confederate officers and soldiers in reorganizing a 
violent overthrow of legitimately elected black governments in the 
South and a number of other institutions that were upset by violent and 
illegal means. If only our Government had stood firmly then, we should 
congratulate our President for the fact

[[Page H440]]

that he stood firmly, offered leadership from the bully pulpit of the 
White House and stood firm on the ravages of affirmative action at a 
time when hysteria was being generated.
  It makes a difference and it is a pity that we do not have that kind 
of leadership from all sectors of the American leadership community 
during the second Reconstruction. We would not have lost so much so 
fast. I thank the gentleman from New Jersey.
  Mr. PAYNE. Let me just say that it was, I believe, the Congressional 
Black Caucus coming together, calling a hearing, bringing witnesses 
together, all-day hearing focusing the attention and then really 
pushing the administration to really become as involved, visiting black 
churches.
  Mr. OWENS. Not for one moment would I want to minimize the role of 
the caucus in stimulating, the caucus stimulated the activity from the 
general community and from the White House. We played a major role. The 
leadership of the first Reconstruction, we must pay homage to them. 
They tried very hard. They were up against bullets and fire, and they 
did not succeed in playing the kind of role that stimulated the rest of 
the country to do the kind of things they ought to do. But we played a 
major role. I certainly do not want to minimize that, of the 
Congressional Black Caucus.
  I yield, to continue the discussion on Black History Month, African-
Americans and civil rights, to the gentleman from Massachusetts [Mr. 
Delahunt]. I want to congratulate Mr. Delahunt. He is new here. I 
welcome him to the floor and congratulate him on his victory.
  Mr. DELAHUNT. Mr. Speaker, I am proud to join with my colleagues in 
this special order celebrating Black History Month. It is truly a 
magnificent history as has been recounted by previous speakers and a 
history that is truly a history of heroism.
  I thought I would take this opportunity to say a few words about a 
remarkable chapter in that history, which is being retrieved and 
returned to us by a dedicated band of preservationists in 
Massachusetts. That chapter concerns the African Meeting House of 
Nantucket, once a church, a meeting hall and a school for children 
prevented from attending public school because of their race.
  The one room meeting house was built in the 1820's and is one of the 
oldest standing structures of its kind in the United States. It 
embodies a rich history. When the meeting house was built, Nantucket 
was the center of the whaling industry in which blacks played an 
integral part. Among the whaling ships that set sail from the island 
was the Industry with the black captain named Absalom Boston and an 
all-black crew. Absalom Boston later became one of the four trustees of 
the African Baptist Church which was to become known as the African 
Meeting House.
  Absalom Boston's grandfather was a slave named Prince Boston who took 
a whaling voyage in 1770. At the end of the voyage, Prince Boston's 
white master demanded that he turn over his earnings. With the help of 
a white shipmate, Prince Boston went to court and won his earnings and 
his freedom, becoming the first slave set free by an jury verdict in 
this Nation. That year Nantucket freed its slaves, 13 years before the 
rest of Massachusetts followed suit.
  In 1845, the daughter of one of the founders of the meeting house 
went to court to demand admission to the public high school. In the 
next year Nantucket became one of the first districts in the country to 
desegregate its schools. With its strong Quaker tradition, the island 
became a stronghold of abolitionist sentiment. It was there that 
Frederick Douglass delivered his first public address before a mixed 
race audience.
  Once the public schools had been integrated, the meeting house ceased 
to operate as a school but continued to function as a vital institution 
in this community island. In 1910, the meeting house was sold to the 
owner of a trucking business and eventually it fell into disrepair. 
Now, thanks to the efforts of the Friends of the African Meeting House 
and the Museum of Afro-American History, this extraordinary landmark is 
due to be opened to the public in 1998. I can think of no more fitting 
commemoration of Black History Month, and I commend all of those who 
have brought this project to fruition.
  Mr. Speaker, much of this fascinating history is recounted in a 
superb article by Don Costanzo that appeared in the Nantucket Beacon on 
January 29, 1997. I include the entire article for insertion in the 
Record.

               [From the Nantucket Beacon, Jan. 29, 1997]

             Resurrecting the Heart and Soul of New Guinea

                           (By Don Costanzo)

       Pending a thumbs-up from their local school board, about 
     460 children in Florida will be saving their pennies to help 
     restore the African Meeting House on Nantucket.
       Last fall Len Kizner, an elementary school teacher at the 
     Bay Vista Elementary School in St. Petersburg, Fla., saw a 
     segment on ``This Old House'' about the meeting house. Last 
     week, he read an article in the New York Times about it.
       Today, Kizner has become so inspired by the project he is 
     about to ask a Florida county school board for permission to 
     raise money within the school to give to the Nantucket 
     landmark.
       ``What better way to celebrate black history month 
     (February) than to tie it into the first schoolhouse for free 
     black people on your island,'' said Kizner. ``It's a great 
     project. We're teaching children, celebrating black culture, 
     and preserving a piece of it too.
       ``It supports black history heritage, and by doing that 
     supports American heritage.''
       Kizner expects to build a scale model of the meeting house, 
     and incorporate the project into geography and social studies 
     classes to help the children better understand where their 
     money is going.
       But what is happening at Bay Vista is only part of the 
     impact this restoration project is having nationally.
       On Martha's Vineyard, a Black Heritage trail has been 
     developed in direct reaction to Nantucket's initiative. And, 
     Helen Seager, Convener of the African Meeting House, has 
     further inspired the people of Portland, Maine to 
     generate more ideas on how they could save the Abyssinian 
     Baptist Church, considered one of the oldest black 
     churches in the country behind one on Beacon Hill in 
     Boston, and Nantucket's.
       ``They have said over and over again,'' said Seager, ``that 
     the Nantucket experience was setting an example for them and 
     inspiring them to go on.''
       But, there would be no `Nantucket experience' today had it 
     not been for the tribulations and accomplishments of men and 
     women from another time.


                            a sense of place

       Although Nantucket was 13 years ahead of the Commonwealth 
     in freeing its slaves in 1770, and more than 100 years ahead 
     of the nation in desegregating its schools in 1845, scars 
     from the fight for freedom and equality here are explicit. 
     Just before 1770, Prince Boston, a slave belonging to William 
     Swain, took a whaling voyage with William Rotch, a highly 
     successful entrepreneur. When Boston returned from his 
     working journey with Rotch in 1770, Swain insisted that the 
     black man turn over all his earnings--since, of course, he 
     owned the slave.
       But Rotch was well-respected on the island by this time, 
     and decided to defend Boston in court. They won the case and 
     Boston was the first slave set free by a jury's verdict. It 
     is believed that blacks on Nantucket shed the chains of 
     slavery for good following this court decision.
       Fifty years later a laborer and mariner named Absalom 
     Boston, Prince Boston's grandson, was establishing his place 
     in history too.
       Boston captained an all-black crew aboard the whaling 
     vessel Industry; he ran an inn and opened a store in an area 
     on the island known as New Guinea, where he worked hard for 
     the betterment of Nantucket's black community.
       By 1821 the nearly 300 blacks who lived on Nantucket had 
     formed a common bond in New Guinea (the name indicated the 
     African roots of its residents, and was used to specify 
     particular section of many cities and towns).
       New Guinea--thought originally to be bordered by Williams 
     Land, Prospect, Silver, and Orange streets--consisted of a 
     cluster of houses and gardens, as well as its own stores, an 
     inn, and eventually a school, cemetery, and two churches.
       One church, the African Methodist Episcopal Church was 
     established in 1835 in a building (which no longer exists) on 
     West York Lane. Little is known about the activities of this 
     church and the participation of blacks there.
       But just a few yards down the street stood another 
     building, which today is a historic testament to the struggle 
     and triumphs of Nantucket's black inhabitants.
       One event that defined black/white dissension on the island 
     was the Anti-Slavery Convention at the Nantucket Atheneum in 
     1842. In a speech, Stephen Foster called Town Meeting voters 
     who had supported segregation in schools ``pimps to satan.''
       Foster hurled fierce words at members of many of the 
     island's churches, charging they were guilty of adultery, 
     theft, kidnapping, and the murder of slaves. He called the 
     clergy and church membership a ``brotherhood of thieves.''
       The pro-slavery faction, incensed at Foster's accusations, 
     shot back with rotten eggs and stones--a riot ensued. While 
     police did almost nothing to calm the fighting, many blacks 
     sought refuge and prayer in a place

[[Page H441]]

     born as the African Baptist Church, but known then as the 
     African School.
       It was at that time that the building we know of today as 
     the African Meeting House further distinguished its place in 
     black history on Nantucket.


                         trucks instead of pews

       Absalom Boston was one of four trustees of the African 
     Baptist Church built in the heart of New Guinea on the corner 
     of York and Pleasant Streets. That said a lot for the church, 
     for Boston was, perhaps, the most respected and wealthiest 
     black man who ever lived on Nantucket.
       Though construction on the building likely began in 1824, 
     the land upon which it eventually stood was not 
     purchased until two years later, Jeffrey Summons, a black 
     man who worked as a carpenter on the island, purchased the 
     land in 1826 for $10.50.
       The building was used as a school, church, meeting house, 
     for anti-slavery lectures, and even used as a makeshift 
     medical clinic where vaccinations for small pox were given in 
     1834.
       When the Nantucket Public Schools integrated in 1846, the 
     building was no longer needed as the island's only 
     educational center for black children. Yet, it was still used 
     for everything else up until about 1910--about the same time 
     Nantucket was reeling from economic disaster.
       Suffering financially, Edgar Wilkes, who had taken over the 
     church in 1888 from the Rev. James Crawford, was forced to 
     sell the building to a trucking business owner named Henry 
     Chase for just $250. Chase needed a place to put his trucks, 
     so he remodeled the former black schoolhouse to accommodate 
     his rigs.
       Then in 1933 Florence Higginbotham, who was already living 
     in the house next door on York Street, bought the building 
     and two adjacent outhouses from Chase for $3,000.
       ``Rumor was that she bought it because she didn't want 
     anybody else between her and the corner,'' said her son, 
     Wilhelm, in a phone interview last week from his home in 
     Oakland, Calif.
       Over the next several years the once proud symbol of black 
     life on Nantucket continued to fall into grim decay, used for 
     nothing more than a storage space for bicycles and 
     construction equipment.
       Wilhelm, an Afro-Indian, inherited the property when his 
     mother died in 1972. But Wilhelm didn't really have much 
     interest in the property, or Nantucket for that matter. The 
     winters were too harsh and the work was too erratic (he did 
     work at Glidden's Island Seafood market for a time), and 24 
     years after he arrived, Wilhelm left Nantucket in 1948. He 
     worked as a postal clerk and managed the island property from 
     his home in Oakland.
       While Mrs. Higginbotham used the building as a source of 
     income, actively marketing it as rental property, Wilhelm 
     owned it ``free and clear'' and didn't care much about 
     renting it out at all, said Seager.
       So it sat there, virtually empty up until about 20 years 
     ago when then Nantucket Bike Shop owner Morgan Levine, who 
     was using the building as a bicycle repair shop, became 
     fascinated with the old relic.
       It was Levine who raised the money for a historical study 
     of the building, and after nearly five decades of 
     degeneration, the wheels of transformation had begun for the 
     old Baptist Church because of a man who just wanted a place 
     to fix bicycles.


                                revival

       It's been called the African School, York Street School, 
     African Church, York Street Colored Baptist Church, Colored 
     Baptist Church, and Pleasant Street Baptist Church. Today, we 
     know it as the African Meeting House on Nantucket.
       In 1981 Byron Rushing, then president of the Museum of Afro 
     American History (MAAH) and now a State Representative, wrote 
     a historical summary of the building.
       By 1986 a historical and architectural study was performed. 
     Three years later MAAH purchased the building to preserve and 
     restore it, and to help provide education about the history 
     of blacks on Nantucket.
       The building's earlier neglect may also have been its 
     saving grace. A full 70 percent of the building was original 
     material when the museum purchased it in 1989.
       ``You have to remember that neglect is a wonderful 
     preservation strategy,'' mused Seager.
       Since last fall, the meeting house has slowly begun to rise 
     again as an icon to the history of blacks on Nantucket. 
     Artifacts have been found, and the architect and builders are 
     finding out what of the structure that now stands can and 
     cannot be used in the restoration.
       ``We're able to save and use quite a bit of what 
     remained,'' said John James, architect for the project, who 
     added that the building is being restored according to how it 
     looked in 1880.
       The wall facing York Street and the east wall are both 
     going to have to be entirely new, said James. The south wall 
     was cut out and a rolling door installed in 1922 to 
     accommodate truck storage. The east wall, bearing the brunt 
     of harsh weather, collapsed and was rebuilt with simple 
     two-by-four construction in the mid 1970s.
       Those two walls, said James, are being rebuilt in keeping 
     with framing techniques of the original building, post and 
     beam--not two-by-four. The west and north sides of the 
     building were in much better condition and can be preserved. 
     And though the windows could not be saved, they are, said 
     project foreman Mike DeNofrio, being virtually duplicated. 
     White cedar shingle will, of course, be the exterior's 
     finishing touch.
       The Friends and Committee of the African Meeting House are 
     hoping to raise $600,000 to complete restoration of the 
     building (exterior is expected to be finished by April, but 
     funds are still being sought for interior restoration) so 
     that future plans for the meeting house can be realized.
       Earlier this month, a group of people involved in the 
     project, community members, and others met to define what the 
     interior of the building should look like and discuss future 
     goals.
       ``They wanted the integrity and respect for the place to 
     remain intact,'' said Sylvia Watts McKinney, executive 
     director of the Museum of Afro American History in Boston.
       McKinney said replicas of the pews will be placed in the 
     building, matching them with markings on the original floor 
     and walls.
       Boards on the walls and floors had outlines of the pews, so 
     James knew the length and width of the aisles based on those 
     markings.
       ``They are absolutely clear,'' said James. In explaining 
     how the markings were made, the architect said to imagine 
     painting a wall a light color, then putting an object, like a 
     pew, up against the wall and painting around it a darker 
     color. When the object is removed, the outline of where it 
     was would be quite clear.
       When the building was used as truck storage earlier this 
     century, a reinforcing floor was built on top of the original 
     floor. Yet, oil and gas dripped down through the newer floor 
     and saturated much of the original floor. The stench could 
     force use of new floorboards in place of many of the original 
     ones.
       ``We just don't know how much of the original flooring we 
     could use,'' said James, who added that pews would still be 
     placed in their original positions even if the original floor 
     cannot be preserved.
       Also, a round wooden canopy is on the ceiling where a 
     chandelier had once hung. The original chandelier, donated to 
     the church by a group of whites in 1837, has yet to be found. 
     A raised platform will also be built at the north end of the 
     building, and a stove, originally used for heating, will be 
     installed for ``ambiance of space,'' said McKinney.
       Much of the original ceiling has rotted and will need to be 
     replaced.
       ``Our primary goal has been and will continue to be that 
     this building is restored,'' said McKinney.


                            A history within

       Upon complete restoration of the building the African 
     Meeting House will be more than an educational center for 
     black history on the island.
       McKinney explained that the nation's oldest meeting house 
     on Beacon Hill is used for such things as press conferences 
     and weddings, and envisions the same on Nantucket.
       Also planned is an audio system playing gospel and 
     spiritual music, reenacted sermons on abolition, and more 
     contemporary themes like Martin Luther King's speech.
       In the 1940s and 50s the building was used, said Seager, 
     for ``an occasional record hop'' with jazz and blues music.
       McKinney said the restored landmark should be ``perceived 
     as a living history where anyone who visits can get a sense 
     of what it was like.
       ``We don't want people to just point and say `that's where 
     it used to be.' We want people to feel that they're a part of 
     it.''
       And Kelly Hanley Goode, a member of the steering committee, 
     added that the original church was not just the center of 
     black life in New Guinea, but on Nantucket and the country as 
     well.
       ``We want to be the impetus and motivation for more 
     research, to draw black history within Nantucket's history 
     where it becomes a part of it--not a separate part,'' said 
     Goode.
       Seager believes deeply in the project, not just for 
     Nantucket, but also for other communities inspired by what is 
     being accomplished here. She said the African Meeting House 
     restoration project has now caught the attention of a church 
     in Savannah, Ga. The priest there is a Nantucket native.
       ``The story of the people is preserved,'' said Seager, 
     ``when the building is preserved.''
  Mr. OWENS. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman from the great State of 
Massachusetts. We should take note of the fact that Massachusetts was 
one of the first to heed the call of President Lincoln and with great 
fervor their soldiers went into the lines and the civil rights battles. 
Also Massachusetts produced Charles Sumner, one of the great defenders 
of slave rights and later on one of the architects of the legislation 
that led to 13th, 14th, and 15th amendments. I thank the gentleman.
  Mr. Speaker, I yield to the gentleman from Virginia [Mr. Moran], a 
neighbor from Alexandria.
  Mr. MORAN of Virginia. Mr. Speaker, I thank my friend, the gentleman 
from New York.
  I gather there are other speakers so I will not take time. I have a 
statement that I am going to submit for the Record that pays tribute to 
the people within my district that have put so much effort into 
preserving the memory, the artifacts, the books, recordings of black 
history in northern Virginia, the Society for the Preservation of Black 
Heritage, the Parker-Gray Society, we have a number of groups that

[[Page H442]]

have been very successful. I want to honor them within the Record.
  I would also mention some of the history that cannot help but be 
recalled at this time. In fact, it is relevant to some of the issues 
that we deal with today.
  For example, in 1846, there was a secession of Alexandria from the 
District of Columbia and our newspaper reports how African Americans, 
who had been brought here involuntarily for the purpose of slavery but 
then had been freed because they were part of the District of Columbia, 
having lived in Alexandria lined the way to all the polling stations, 
begging those whites, because white people were the only ones allowed 
to vote at the time, not to--what it was was a secession from the 
District of Columbia to make that populated part of northern Virginia 
part of the Commonwealth of Virginia and thus they would no longer be 
freed people.
  They were unsuccessful in that effort and Alexandria immediately 
slipped back to some of its darkest days and became a center for 
slavery. I want to thank the Washington Urban League for purchasing the 
buildings now that at one point were slave quarters, to remind young 
people growing up in our community of the relatively recent history 
that gives us cause to renew our efforts to be vigilant and not to take 
our freedoms and progress for granted.

                              {time}  1715

  Because we are only talking about 150 years. Almost exactly 150 years 
ago when this occurred. It took a Civil War to restore dignity and 
freedom to those citizens.
  We, today, are in a similar struggle, although it may not be as 
clear, to establish dignity and opportunity for all of our citizens, 
particularly within the District of Columbia, our capital city. And so 
I would hope that as we focus on Black History Month, that we would 
have more than the African-American Representatives within the Congress 
contribute to this.
  We are all representing districts of our country that have been 
profoundly affected by the most scandalous era within America's 
history, and it is up to all of us not just to contribute words but to 
contribute a sincere commitment to build upon the progress that our 
African-American brothers and sisters have achieved. We are where we 
are, in large part, because of the pain, the suffering, the 
perseverance and the immense contribution they have made to our culture 
and our history.
  Mr. Speaker, the prepared statement I referred to earlier follows 
herewith:
  Mr. Speaker, today, as we come together to celebrate the 
contributions that African-Americans have made to this great Nation, I 
would like to pay special tribute to the many African-Americans in my 
district that have helped northern Virginia grow into the diverse and 
distinguished place it is today.
  Since 1983, the Alexandria Black History Resource Center has been 
educating northern Virginia about the history of our community. In 
addition to giving lectures and tours of the center, the Resource 
Center houses an impressive collection of memorabilia which documents 
the history of the African-American experience in Virginia. Upon 
visiting the Resource Center, guests learn of the great efforts made by 
the Alumni Association of the Parker-Gray School and the Alexandria 
Society for the Preservation of Black Heritage, Inc. to remind everyone 
of the contributions that African-Americans have made across the 
country. Their efforts also remind us that only by working together do 
we achieve an understanding of who we are as individuals.
  The Parker-Gray School and the Alexandria Society for the 
Preservation of Black Heritage, Inc. both have an impressive history of 
their own to tell. The society began as the response of African-
Americans in the Parker-Gray section of Alexandria to protect the 
Alfred Street Baptist Church from demolition. This church served as a 
catalyst for the black community in Alexandria. During an unstable time 
for African-Americans in this area, the church was not only a place of 
worship, but it was also a place for blacks to meet, plan, and build 
the community into what it is today. The Alexandria Society for the 
Preservation of Black Heritage, Inc. succeeded in its efforts. It 
continues to use the same perseverance to maintain and expand upon the 
black community.
  The Parker-Gray School, which is named for two African-American 
principals of earlier schools that added greatly to the community, 
became the first 4-year high school for blacks in this area. The 
descendants of those who fought long and hard for the opening of this 
high school continue to work to build our community.
  Another important project in the Eighth Congressional District is the 
Slave Memorial at Mount Vernon. The memorial, whose design was 
contributed to by students of the Howard University School of 
Architecture and Planning, consists of a gray granite column at the 
center of three concentric brick circles. The center column bears the 
inscription ``In memory of the Afro-Americans who served as slaves at 
Mount Vernon.'' The three brick circles around the column are inscribed 
``Faith,'' ``Hope'' and ``Love''--to symbolize the virtues that 
sustained those living in bondage. This memorial serves as a reminder 
of all of the thousands of visitors who come to Mount Vernon every year 
that this country was built by the labor of all of our ancestors.
  This is the only known monument of its kind. It is a permanent 
tribute to enslaved African-Americans, whose skills, talents and 
spiritual strengths were an integral part of America's past. Every 
year, for the past 13 years, Black Women United for Action, an 
organization which serves as a strong voice of the black community, and 
the Mount Vernon Ladies' Association, the non-profit organization that 
owns Mount Vernon, organize a wreath-laying ceremony at the Slave 
Memorial to honor these men and women.
  All of the organizations and people mentioned above have done much to 
honor the rich contributions of African Americans, not only in northern 
Virginia but across the Nation. Their hard work is important to all of 
our communities to grow as one, remembering the struggles of our past 
and building the blocks to our future.
  Black History Month is a time for celebrating the strength and 
diversity that African-Americans provide to these United States of 
America. And I thank you for giving me this time to add to the 
celebration. I only wish I had more time to give thanks to all of the 
groups and highlight all of the sites in the Eighth District of 
Virginia which add to the community. I would like to encourage everyone 
to come across the river to experience this rich environment.
  Mr. OWENS. Mr. Speaker, I would ask if there is anyone in the House 
that has not spoken yet that would like to speak?
  If not, I would like to yield to the gentlewoman from California to 
make a closing statement, and the gentleman from Ohio if he would like 
to make a closing statement, also, after the gentlewoman.
  Mr. STOKES. Yes, after the chairwoman.
  Mr. OWENS. Mr. Speaker, I yield to the gentlewoman from California, 
the leader of our Black Caucus.
  Ms. WATERS. Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the gentleman for the 
additional time he took out here to ensure that all those who would 
like to make a statement about the contributions of the history, the 
development, the involvement of African-Americans in our society, in 
our country, in our Nation, would have that opportunity to do so.
  I would additionally like to thank Congressman Stokes, because we do 
this today because he engineered this tradition for us in this House. 
Today he was able to sit here and advise us, and to instruct us and to 
help us learn protocol and to do all those things that we must learn to 
do to make these kinds of presentations.
  I am grateful to him for his assistance, for his leadership, but I am 
eternally grateful to him for the role that he played in the founding 
and the development of the Congressional Black Caucus. It is because of 
his work that we understand our power. It is because of his work that 
we understand what it means to be unified. It is because of his 
leadership and the others that had the vision about where we could go 
and what we can be that we stand here today and share with the world 
who we are, what our aspirations are and what our vision is for the 
future.
  Mr. OWENS. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentlewoman from California for 
her leadership in also organizing this special order, and I yield to 
the gentleman from Ohio, if he would like to speak.
  Mr. STOKES. Mr. Speaker, I would just like to thank the gentleman in 
the well for having taken this last hour and providing us the 
opportunity to extend this special order for a 2-hour period. I 
particularly want to recognize the contribution the gentleman is making 
as a member of the Congressional Black Caucus and one of the new 
leaders. So we are particularly proud to have had your participation 
this afternoon.

[[Page H443]]

                             General Leave

  Mr. OWENS. Mr. Speaker, I ask unanimous consent that all Members may 
have 5 legislative days within which to revise and extend their remarks 
on Black History Month.
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. Is there objection to the request of the 
gentleman from New York?
  There was no objection.
  Mr. OWENS. Mr. Speaker, I also want to thank the members of the 
majority for yielding us this time in a way which allowed us to present 
this special order in a 2-hour format back-to-back.
  I want to close with just a few remarks thanking my colleagues and 
thanking Mr. Stokes again for the tradition that has been established 
here by the Congressional Black Caucus. This is just the beginning. I 
hope that we stimulate a more thorough discussion all year round within 
the African-American community in general, but all of our organizations 
and all of our leaders ought to take another close look at history.
  What we need is more profundity. We need to dig deeper into our 
history and follow the example of the South Africans. The South African 
Truth and Reconciliation Commission is a model that is still pertinent 
for America. I think we ought to understand that some of the tensions 
within our society are there because people do not understand what the 
history of slavery is all about. They do not understand, even our own 
young people do not understand, how great their ancestors were.
  I talk to young people and I say, all your ancestors were members of 
an aristocracy, an aristocracy of survivors. Survivors. Just to 
survive, just to survive the Atlantic crossing, just to get here to 
these shores alive, to survive 232 years. Two hundred thirty-two years. 
And remember Shakespeare's phrase, ``Tomorrow, and tomorrow and 
tomorrow.''
  What was 232 years like? What did slaves have to look forward to? Two 
hundred thirty-two years. What are the economic implications of being 
in America, a people being in America for 232 years and not being paid 
for their labor? What are the economic implications of a people not 
being able to save anything? What are the economic implications of not 
being able to pass anything on to your children?
  Some of our young people are ashamed that it seems that blacks are 
always at the bottom. They are at the bottom of the economic structure, 
et cetera. It would take a miracle for us to get to the top when we 
consider the fact that most wealth is inherited.
  The researchers have established the fact that wealth is inherited. 
It is passed on from one generation to another. Sometimes it may be a 
small amount, but in order to have a small amount to invest and to make 
that amount grow you have to have it to begin with.
  As I said before, the gap between the black middle class in America 
and the mainstream middle class is not great when it comes to income, 
the salaries being earned, the kinds of jobs being occupied; but when 
we compare the wealth, wealth means property, wealth means stocks and 
bonds, wealth means cars and things that have value beyond a few years. 
When we look at wealth, it is not there.
  One of the reasons wealth is not there is because 232 years went by 
without us earning wages, being able to save. Nothing could be passed 
on to the young people. We need to study that. We need to look at the 
implications of it.
  The South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission is dealing with 
more immediate kinds of things that happened, all of the killings and 
maiming and murders that took place in South Africa, perpetrated by one 
group, the minority whites on the majority blacks. In order to deal 
with that and not have that poison their present, not have the past 
poison their present, to be able to go forward for the future, they 
have this Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
  I do not have time to talk about it, but, Mr. Speaker, I want to 
enter into the Record an introduction which explains what the Truth and 
Reconciliation Commission of South Africa is all about. I say in 
introducing this, this background paper on the Truth and Reconciliation 
Commission of South Africa, that I intend to introduce legislation 
which calls for the establishment of a Truth and Reconciliation 
Commission in the United States related to slavery and the condition of 
people of African descent, the descendants of the slaves.
  The gentleman from Michigan [Mr. Conyers] has introduced for several 
years a bill related to reparations. I am not going to add reparations. 
That is money. It excites people. It leads the discussion in the wrong 
direction. I want to talk about truth, truth before reconciliation.
  We are not reconciled. We have too many people out there among the 
descendants of slaves who do not understand where they came from and 
who do not have the right self-esteem and sense of self-worth. We have 
too many people out there among the descendants of slave owners who are 
not willing to admit that there was a great injustice done and that 
injustice had repercussions.
  Some of the people who stand on the floor and yell loudest about 
welfare and the need to make everybody go out and overnight get a job, 
et cetera, when the jobs do not exist and the economy does not favor 
certain kinds of people, they are descendants of slave owners.
  We need to put these things in perspective. We need to study in a 
deeper and more thorough way some of the major documents of our own 
history, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
  And again I want to emphasize the fact that reconciliation is more 
important than justice. We are not seeking justice. Justice means we 
have to go fight wars and make people pay us reparations, and really 
justice would be out of the question.
  Just as the people in Haiti have given up on justice, and they are 
not trying to punish anybody, they want reconciliation. They want 
reconciliation with the people who perpetrated the murders. In Bosnia 
and the Balkans they will not get anywhere unless they give up any 
quest for justice. Seek reconciliation but do not seek reconciliation 
in a phony way. Do not think you can have reconciliation unless you 
deal with the truth first.
  Let us take a document like the 14th Amendment and deal with it 
truthfully. The 14th amendment, like the 13th amendment and the 15th 
amendment, were perpetrated, were created by the Members of Congress in 
response to the aftermath of slavery. We had set the slaves free. 
Actually the 13th amendment set the slaves free, and what should we do 
now? The 14th amendment came along to give the slaves equal rights.
  But the 14th amendment has some other things in it, and I want to 
call my colleagues' attention to the other things in the 14th amendment 
because it is more than just equal rights. The 14th amendment is now 
being distorted to take away any programs which offer special treatment 
for the descendants of African slaves. That is turning history on its 
head, because the interpretation of the Constitution, most of the time 
the Supreme Court wants to know what was the intent of the founders.
  The 14th amendment says the intent of the founders in the 14th 
amendment was to correct injustices related to slavery. And there are 
other parts which go on to talk about getting rid of that three-fifths 
count and counting everybody whole. Every male is to be counted 
equally.
  And there are other parts that talk about punishing, punishing the 
people who rose up in rebellion against the Union. That is all in the 
14th amendment. I cite those things because that makes it clear the 
14th amendment is not about equal rights for everybody. It is about 
making adjustments in this society to take care of the evils of 
slavery. And when we set aside laws and voting rights laws which favor 
the descendants of African slaves, then we are in harmony with the 14th 
amendment.
  We need to study these things in more detail. We will be back in the 
future, and I hope my colleagues will join me. Civil rights 
organizations need to update their own quest for the truth in history. 
We need to support a Truth and Reconciliation Commission in order to 
move forward toward the year 2000 with a more just society.
  There are issues that will be coming up this very year: putting a cap 
on Medicaid, denying medical services to the poorest Americans. The 
proportion of the poorest Americans is great

[[Page H444]]

among African-Americans, the descendants of slaves. We are moving in a 
direction which is refusing to recognize that we ought to take some 
steps to reconcile with the former victims of slavery.
  These things are part of history. The small individual achievements 
of individuals are part of history, and that has been cited in many 
cases here, but we need to take a more profound, in-depth look at 
history, the history of America and the awful institution of slavery; 
how the repercussions of that institution keep going on.
  Mr. Speaker, I thank everybody who has participated today.
  Mr. Speaker, I want to enter into the Record at this point an 
introduction which explains what the Truth and Reconciliation 
Commission of South Africa is all about.

        Introduction by the Minister of Justice, Mr. Dullah Omar

       After a long process of discussion and debate, inside and 
     outside of Parliament, the scene is finally set for the 
     appointment of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. It is 
     important to understand the context in which the Truth and 
     Reconciliation Commission will take place. The Commission is 
     based on the final clause of the Interim Constitution which 
     reads as follows:
       ``This Constitution provides a historic bridge between the 
     past of a deeply divided society characterised by strife, 
     conflict, untold suffering and injustice, and a future 
     rounded on the recognition of human rights, democracy and 
     peaceful co-existence and development opportunities for all 
     South Africans, irrespective of colour, race, class, belief 
     or sex.
       ``The pursuit of national unity, the well-being of all 
     South African citizens and peace require reconciliation 
     between the people of South Africa and the reconstruction of 
     society.
       ``The adoption of this Constitution lays the secure 
     foundation for the people of South Africa to transcend the 
     divisions and strife of the past, which generated gross 
     violations of human rights, the transgression of humanitarian 
     principles in violent conflicts and a legacy of hatred, fear, 
     guilt and revenge.
       ``These can now be addressed on the basis that there is a 
     need for understanding but not for vengeance, a need for 
     reparation but not retaliation, a need for ubuntu but not for 
     victimisation.
       ``In order to advance such reconciliation and 
     reconstruction, amnesty shall be granted in respect of acts, 
     omissions and offences associated with political objectives 
     and committed in the course of the conflicts of the past. To 
     this end, Parliament under this Constitution shall adopt a 
     law determining a firm cut-off date which shall be a date 
     after 8 October 1990 and before 6 December 1993, and 
     providing for the mechanisms, criteria and procedures, 
     including tribunals, if any, through which such amnesty shall 
     be dealt with at any time after the law has been passed.
       ``With this Constitution and these commitments we, the 
     people of South Africa, open a new chapter in the history of 
     our country.
       I could have gone to Parliament and produced an amnesty 
     law--but this would have been to ignore the victims of 
     violence entirely. We recognised that we could not forgive 
     perpetrators unless we attempt also to restore the honour and 
     dignity of the victims and give effect to reparation.
       The question of amnesty must be located in a broader 
     context and the wounds of our people must be recognised. I do 
     not distinguish between ANC wounds, PAC wounds and other 
     wounds--many people are in need of healing, and we need to 
     heal our country if we are to build a nation which will 
     guarantee peace and stability.
       A critical question which involves all of us in how do 
     South Africans come to terms with the past. In trying to 
     answer this important question honestly and openly, we are 
     fortunate in having a President who is committed to genuine 
     reconciliation in our country and to the transformation of 
     South Africa into a non-racial, non-sexist democracy based on 
     a recognition of universally accepted human rights.
       The President believes--and many of us support him in this 
     belief--that the truth concerning human rights violations in 
     our country cannot be suppressed or simply forgotten. They 
     ought to be investigated, recorded and made known. Therefore 
     the President supports the setting up of a Commission of 
     Truth and Reconciliation.

                           *   *   *   *   *


                             Amendment XIII

       Section 1. Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, 
     except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have 
     been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or 
     any place subject to their jurisdiction.
       Section 2. Congress shall have power to enforce this 
     article by appropriate legislation.

                             Amendment XIV

       Section 1. All persons born or naturalized in the United 
     States and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens 
     of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No 
     State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the 
     privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; 
     nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or 
     property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person 
     within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.
       Section 2. Representatives shall be apportioned among the 
     several States according to their respective numbers, 
     counting the whole number of persons in each State, excluding 
     Indians not taxed. But when the right to vote at any election 
     for the choice of electors for President and Vice President 
     of the United States, Representatives in Congress, the 
     Executive and Judicial officers of a State, or the members of 
     the Legislature thereof, is denied to any of the male 
     inhabitants of such State, being twenty-one years of age, and 
     citizens of the United States, or in any way abridged, except 
     for participation in rebellion, or other crime, the basis of 
     representation therein shall be reduced in the proportion 
     which the number of such male citizens twenty-one years of 
     age in such State.
       Section 3. No person shall be a Senator or Representative 
     in Congress, or elector of President and Vice President, or 
     hold any office, civil or military, under the United States, 
     or under any State, who, having previously taken an oath, as 
     a member of Congress, or as an officer of the United States, 
     or as a member of any State legislature, or as an executive 
     or judicial officer of any State, to support the Constitution 
     of the United States, shall have engaged in insurrection or 
     rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the 
     enemies thereof. But Congress may by a vote of two-thirds of 
     each House, remove such disability.
       Section 4. The validity of the public debt of the United 
     States, authorized by law, including debts incurred for 
     payment of pensions and bounties for services in suppressing 
     insurrection or rebellion, shall not be questioned. But 
     neither the United States nor any State shall assume or pay 
     any debt or obligation incurred in aid of insurrection or 
     rebellion against the United States, or any claim for the 
     loss of emancipation of any slave; but all such debts, 
     obligations and claims shall be held illegal and void.
       Section 5. The Congress shall have power to enforce by 
     appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.

                              Amendment XV

       Section 1. The right of citizens of the United States to 
     vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or 
     by any State on account of race, color, or previous condition 
     of servitude.
       Section 2. The Congress shall have power to enforce this 
     article by appropriate legislation.

                          ____________________