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Rush Introduces Legislation Celebrating Black History Month

February 3, 2021

WASHINGTON — In celebration of Black History Month, U.S. Representative Bobby L. Rush (D-Ill.) announced that he has introduced a series of bills aimed at recognizing the achievements of African-Americans and the central role African-Americans have played in bringing the United States closer to its founding ideals of liberty and justice for all.

"The killings of unarmed black men and women in this past year have served as a sobering reminder of how much work is left to be done in the fight for justice and equality," said Rush. "As we continue to be inspired by the work of today's civil rights activists, it is vital that we acknowledge the contributions of the long line of those who came before us and worked so bravely and fearlessly to make the United States a fairer and more equitable country. I am honored to have the opportunity to introduce these bills in acknowledgement of the immeasurable contributions of African-Americans to our country and Illinois' First Congressional District. As we look towards a more just future, it also remains critical to invest in our young people, and I am proud to reintroduce a vital bill that does just that."

The bills introduced by Congressman Rush include:

H.R. 668, the Jobs Now Youth Employment Act: This bill would require the Department of Labor to invest in our youth workforce, with a specific focus on areas suffering from high unemployment. Funding could be used for the support of career services and financial literacy, researching the education and employment needs of eligible youths, and supporting the development of alternative, evidence-based programs that enhance the choices available to those eligible.

H.R. 670, the Bronzeville–Black Metropolis National Heritage Act: This bill establishes the Bronzeville–Black Metropolis district as a National Heritage Area within Illinois. This bill also designates the Black Metropolis National Heritage Area Commission as the National Heritage Area Local Coordinating Entity.

H.R. 671, the Fort Pillow National Battlefield Park Study Act: This bill directs the Department of the Interior to conduct a special resource study of Fort Pillow Historic State Park in Henning, Tennessee to determine if the area would qualify as a unit of the National Park Service.

H.R. 672, the Rejecting and Eliminating the Foul Use of Symbols Exulting (REFUSE) Confederate Principles Act: This bill establishes a grant program through the U.S. National Park Service to expedite to the removal of Confederate symbols and to incentivize the formation of alternative structures, including structure to commemorate the freedom of enslaved Black people.

H.Res. 79, H.R. 673, and H.R. 674, legislation to commemorate the life and legacy of Hazel M. Johnson, the mother of the environmental justice movement: Hazel M. Johnson's tireless advocacy for environmental justice, on the South Side of Chicago and across the United States, helped bring lifesaving protections to those who suffered from environmental injustice. Ms. Johnson's activism successfully pressured the Chicago Housing Authority to remove asbestos from the Altgeld Gardens Homes on the city's South Side, and the installation of water and sewer lines in the Maryland Manor neighborhood. Ms. Johnson's advocacy was also instrumental in President Clinton's signing of Executive Order 12898 in February of 1994, which directed federal agencies to address the disproportionate health or environmental effects of their programs on low-income and minority communities.

H.Res. 79 would designate the month of April each year as Hazel M. Johnson Environmental Justice Month. H.R. 673 would direct the Postmaster General to issue a commemorative postage stamp in honor of Ms. Johnson. H.R. 674, the Hazel M. Johnson Congressional Gold Medal Act, would posthumously present Ms. Johnson with a Congressional Gold Medal in recognition of her achievements and contributions to the environmental justice movement.

H.Con.Res. 14, the Abolish the Last Great Plantation in America Resolution: This bill would establish a Congressional Commission on Addressing Racism and Ensuring Diversity in the United States Government to study and make recommendations on eliminating systemic racism and promoting diversity in the Federal Government.