U.S. Rep. Wm. Lacy Clay

On Wednesday, July 26, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a new bill to support the preservation of historical sites from the Civil Rights Movement.

H.R. 1927, the African American Civil Rights Network Act of 2017, was authored by U.S. Rep. Wm. Lacy Clay (D-Missouri). The bipartisan act – which was approved with 72 cosponsors from across the nation, including U.S. Rep. Jason Smith (R-Missouri) – is designed to help preserve, illuminate and tell the still largely untold story of the 20th century struggle for civil rights.

The legislation requires the Department of the Interior to establish a network of all current National Parks Services sites that relate to the Civil Rights Movement, along with other federal, state, local and privately owned properties that are significant to the movement. The Department of the interior will also produce educational materials “such as handbooks, maps, interpretive guides, or electronic information” to all the different places in the network.

“The historic network that H.R. 1927 would create would offer 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 for every American, regardless of the color of their skin,” Clay said in remarks on the House floor Wednesday.

“Young Americans find it difficult to believe that racial segregation was once considered normal and necessary in some parts of the United States,” Clay said. “I truly believe that the healing potential for this legislation is essential to bringing our nation together. Across this great country, precious historic waypoints along the routes of that still largely untold story are at risk of being lost forever.”

Though this legislation does not include increased funding for the preservation of historic places relevant to the Civil Rights Movement, it is designed to bring greater attention to those places so that they will not be forgotten. The program is set to expire after seven years.

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