H O U S E R E S O L U T I O N
CREATING A SPECIAL HOUSE COMMISSION TO PLAN AND COORDINATE BLACK HISTORY MONTH ACTIVITIES THROUGHOUT THE STATE
WHEREAS, Throughout the colonial and republican history of America, truly significant African-American contributions to the economy, social growth, sciences and arts of this great nation have all too often been ignored. This is an unfair and gross distortion of the facts, and truth cries out for justice. In recognition of this situation, February, throughout the nation, is now celebrated as Black History Month; and
WHEREAS, The progress of African-Americans, both in the nation generally and in the State of Rhode Island specifically, has been marked with both the tragedy of social inequalities and the triumph of group and individual achievements; and
WHEREAS, African-Americans have been an integral part of Rhode Island's social, political and economic development from its beginning as a British colony to the formation of the United States; and
WHEREAS, From the initial shots fired in the struggle for American Independence, to the Rhode Island's 1st Black Regiment's Battle of Newport, and the garrisons of the Rhode Island 14th Heavy Artillery Regiment (Colored) in 1863, Americans of African decent have responded to the call; and
WHEREAS, In recognition of the positive and patriotic contributions of African-American Rhode Islanders in the United States military, we honor their legacy of Resolute and Intrepid Duty to America; and
WHEREAS, These accomplishments, from the earliest recordation of Black History in our State, have included those of slaves, former slaves, and free men who served with pride to protect our vital interests and provide for our common defense; and
WHEREAS, Such structures in the town of Newport as the Brick Market, later used as the town hall and theater; the old Colony House which served Rhode Island as its capitol; and the Redwood Library, the oldest Library in America, pay lasting and beautiful homage to the African-Americans who lived in our State and played a major role in their construction; and
WHEREAS, The citizenry of the State of Rhode Island owe a debt of gratitude to the "people of color" whose documented achievements have many times in our past gone unnoticed and unrecognized. It behooves all Rhode Islanders to observe this month of February by familiarizing themselves with African-American History, whether it be local, state, or national; now, therefore be it
RESOLVED, That a special House commission be and the same is hereby created consisting of nine (9) members; five (5) of whom shall be from the House of Representatives, not more than three (3) from the same political party, to be appointed by the Speaker; one (1) of whom shall be the chairperson of the Black Heritage Society, or designee; one (1) of whom shall be a representative of the Prince Hall Masons of Rhode Island, to be appointed by the Speaker; one (1) of whom shall be a representative of the State Council for the Arts, to be appointed by the Speaker; and one (1) of whom shall be a representative of the Rhode Island State Archives, to be appointed by the Secretary of State.
In lieu of any appointment of a member of the legislature to a permanent advisory commission, a legislative study commission, or any commission created by a general assembly resolution, the appointing authority may appoint a member of the general public to serve in lieu of a legislator, provided that the majority leader or the minority leader of the political party which is entitled to the appointment consents to the appointment of the member of the general public.
The purpose of said commission shall be to plan and coordinate Black History Month activities throughout the state.
Forthwith upon passage of this resolution, the members of the commission shall meet at the call of the Speaker and organize and shall select from among the legislators a chairperson. Vacancies in said commission shall be filled in like manner as the original appointment.
The membership of said commission shall receive no compensation for their services.
All departments and agencies of the state shall furnish such advice and information, documentary and otherwise, to said commission and its agents as is deemed necessary or desirable by the commission to facilitate the purposes of this resolution.
The Speaker of the house is hereby authorized and directed to provide suitable quarters for said commission: and be it further
RESOLVED, That the commission shall report its findings and recommendations to the House of Representatives on or before February 13, 2002 and said commission shall expire on April 13, 2002.