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Congressman Lacy Clay

Representing the 1st District of Missouri

U.S. Reps Clay, Smith – U.S. Senators Brown, Alexander Introduce African American Civil Rights Network Act of 2017

April 5, 2017
Press Release
New Bipartisan Legislation Would Authorize National Parks Service to Create Historic Trail Program Preserving and Commemorating the Ongoing Struggle for Full Equality

WASHINGTON, DC – Congressman Wm. Lacy Clay (D) Missouri; Congressman Jason Smith (R) Missouri; Senator Sherrod Brown (D) Ohio and Senator Lamar Alexander (R) Tennessee have teamed up to introduce the African American Civil Rights Network Act of 2017.  This bipartisan legislation would authorize the National Park Service to establish a program to preserve and protect the memory of the people and places that were significant in the struggle to secure equal rights for African Americans during the modern civil rights era between 1939-1968.  The act has already gathered 72 cosponsors in the U.S. House.

“The purpose of our legislation is to recognize, preserve, protect and share the remarkable American story of the modern struggle for civil rights, a unique national experience that touches every American, regardless of their age or heritage,” said Mr. Clay. “The historic network would create tremendous educational opportunities by recognizing those brave souls from all walks of life who fought to make the promises enshrined in our constitution finally ring true.”  The Congressman added, “In many places across this country, precious historic waypoints along the routes of that still largely untold story are at risk of being lost forever.  My hope is that the historic civil rights trails and the programs that will grow from this act will honestly tell the full and sometimes painful story of the struggle for civil rights, not just for African Americans, but to foster healing, tolerance and understanding among all Americans. I urge my colleagues to cosponsor this important new legislation.”

This new bill is similar to legislation that created The National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom Act of 1998, presently administered by the National Park Service. It directs the Secretary of the Interior to identify and create a national network of historic sites, stories, research facilities and educational programs connected to the modern African American Civil Rights Movement.  The bill is supported by the NAACP; the National Trust for Historic Preservation; the National Urban League and the National Parks Conservation Association.