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Directing Office of Historian to Compile Oral Histories from Members Involved in Alabama Civil Rights Movement Marches

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. PASCRELL. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to express my strong support for H. Res. 562, which will instruct the House Historian to collect oral histories from Members of Congress involved in the marches from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama as well as the wider civil rights movement. This effort will preserve for generations to come the experiences of all those who had to fight to bring the realities of our nation in line with our ideals of freedom and equality. I am glad that we can all come together in a bipartisan fashion to support this important initiative.

During the historic marches from Selma to Montgomery in 1965, led by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and my colleague Representative John Lewis, many brave protesters were brutally beaten and tear-gassed by authorities for non-violently standing up for their rights. The images of these events embodied the viciousness of racism and segregation, and raised awareness and support for the civil rights movement across the nation. This momentum resulted in increasing desegregation and the passage of the Voting Rights Act by Congress in 1965, which reaffirmed the rights of all Americans to participate in our democratic political process, regardless of race or identity. Starting in 1998, Members of Congress, led once again by Congressman LEWIS, have been participating in an annual march from Selma to Montgomery to commemorate these events and to underscore the immense positive impact that the participants in those marches had on the history of our nation.

Please join me in supporting this legislation and in recognizing my friend Representative Lewis for his invaluable contributions to the civil rights movement. It is my hope that the histories to be compiled by this project will inspire the leaders of the future, who are following the example set by Representative Lewis and other civil leaders. They are truly striving to make our country a more perfect reflection of the vision of our founders.


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