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Support for the Establishment of A ``National Cameroonian Heritage and Diaspora Month''

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. GIBSON. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to express my support for the establishment of a ``National Cameroonian Heritage and Diaspora Month'' during the month of May to celebrate the great contributions of Americans of Cameroonian immigrant heritage in the United States, who have enriched the history of our Nation.

Mr. Speaker, people of recent Cameroonian immigrant heritage and the greater Cameroonian diaspora are found in every State of the Union. Furthermore, the history of Americans of Cameroonian descent in the United States is inextricably tied to the story of the Nation.

This past year, I have been proud to establish and co-chair the Congressional Cameroon Caucus, along with Congressman Andre Carson (D- IN), Congressman Steve Russell (R-OK) and Congressman Hank Johnson (D- GA). The Congressional Cameroon Caucus enjoys strong bi-partisan support, which includes Congresswoman Sheila Jackson-Lee (D-TX).

The community of Americans of Cameroonian immigrant heritage in the United States poses an inherently diverse population comprised of distinct ethnicities, religions and more than 100 language dialects. Americans of Cameroonian immigrant heritage in the United States come from all regions in Cameroon and do not constitute a homogeneous group. They include people from different religious, linguistic, ethnic, racial, cultural, and social backgrounds. Cameroon is nicknamed `Africa in Miniature or Mini Africa' for its religious, linguistics, geographic and ethnic diversity.

Mr. Speaker, the month of May has been celebrated by Cameroonians at home and abroad, since 1972, because `Cameroon National Day' is on May 20. Since independence in 1960, Cameroon has earned a reputation as a peaceful and welcoming nation, and as a linchpin of regional stability. Undoubtedly, Cameroon serves as an important economic, military, and cultural partner of the United States.

Additionally, Americans of Cameroonian descents have traced their heritage via DNA to various kingdoms in Cameroon such as Bamileke, Hausa, Tikar, Baka. Individuals such as Secretary Condelezza Rice, Congresswoman Karen Bass, Congresswoman Kelly Robin; artists such as Quincy Jones, Blair Underwood, Venessa L. Williams, Sheryl Lee Ralph; and thousands of Americans of African-American, Afro-Latino America, Afro-European Americans and others, have traced their heritage to Cameroon.

Recent Cameroonian immigrants have also made significant contributions to American culture, including in areas of American life such as the military, health care, arts, education, community service, and public policy. Raising awareness about Cameroonian immigrant heritage is crucial to effectively fighting disparities within the greater Black population in the American narrative and is essential to building a stronger America. Additionally, Americans of recent Cameroonian immigrant heritage have played an active role in the civil rights movement and other social and political movements in the United States such as Sylvie Qwasinwi Bello of the Cameroon American Council.

Mr. Speaker, the people of Cameroon share the hopes and aspirations of the people of the United States for peace and prosperity throughout the world, but there remains much to be done to ensure that Americans of recent Cameroonian immigrant heritage and the greater Cameroonian diaspora have access to resources and a voice in the United States Government and continue to advance in the political, social, and economic landscape of the United States. Celebrating `National Cameroonian Heritage and Diaspora Month' in the month of May would provide the people of the United States with an opportunity to recognize the achievements, contributions, and history of and to appreciate the challenges faced by Americans of recent Cameroonian immigrant heritage. For that reason, Mr. Speaker, I believe that a ``National Cameroonian Heritage and Diaspora Month'' should be recognized in May to celebrate the significant contributions of Americans of recent Cameroonian Immigrant Heritage to the history of the United States.

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