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Commemorating The 200th Anniversary Of The Abolition Of The Transatlantic Slave Trade

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC



Ms. ROS-LEHTINEN. Madam Speaker, thank you for bringing up this important resolution to this floor today. And I yield myself such time as I may consume.

Madam Speaker, I rise today in support of House Resolution 272, which recognizes the historical significance of the abolition of transatlantic slave trade. It respects the memory of those who perished as a result of slavery. It supports preservation of related historical documents, and it urges greater education about this sad period in history for both current and future generations.

While addressing the Community of Democracies' opening plenary in Chile on April 29, 2005, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice stated: ``We at the Community of Democracies must use the power of our shared ideals to accelerate democracy's movement to ever more places around the globe. We must usher in an era of democracy that thinks of tyranny as we thought of slavery today: a moral abomination that could not withstand the natural desire of every human being for a life of liberty and of dignity.''

While Secretary Rice's remarks were specifically on the promotion of democracy around the world, she reminded us of a very unsettling fact. Even 200 years after the abolition of the slave trade in the United Kingdom and nearly 145 years after the Emancipation Proclamation in our United States, slavery still exists in the modern world. It exists through tyranny. It exists through oppression. It exists where human rights and freedom are systematically repressed.

Secretary Rice's statement serves as a call to action for those of us who would seek to break the shackles of tyranny and promote human dignity around the world.

I appreciate the bipartisan fashion by which we have sought to heed the Secretary's call and to recognize the significance of the abolition of the transatlantic slave trade, as evidenced by our consideration today of both this resolution by the Congresswoman from California (Ms. Lee) and House Resolution 158, offered by the gentleman from Pennsylvania (Mr. Pitts). Collectively, these resolutions remind us of the courage and the fortitude of those who came before us to fight the scourge of slavery, while helping us come to terms with our own shameful past.

I believe that there would be no better way to respect the memory of those forced to suffer under the horrors of the transatlantic slave trade, or to honor those who dedicated themselves to its abolition, than to stand together today in a bipartisan fashion and publicly recommit ourselves to the eradication of slavery and the promotion of human rights around the world.

Madam Speaker, I again thank you for bringing this important resolution to the floor.

Madam Speaker, because I know that the gentleman from New Jersey and the gentlewoman from California have many speakers on their side, except for the 2 minutes that I would like to yield to the gentleman from Indiana (Mr. Burton) to comment on this important resolution, I yield the balance of my time to the gentleman from New Jersey (Mr. Payne), and I ask unanimous consent that he be allowed to control that time.


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