R 86
2002-S 2837
Enacted 02/27/2002

S  E  N  A  T  E    R  E  S  O  L  U  T  I  O  N



Introduced By: Senators J Cicilline, Walton, Paiva-Weed, Irons, and Perry


Date Introduced: February 27, 2002

WHEREAS, Throughout the history of America, truly significant African-American contributions to the economy, military, social growth, sciences and arts of this great nation have all too often been ignored. In recognition of this unfair distortion of the facts, Americans began recognizing "Black History Month" annually in 1926. We owe the celebration of Black History Month, and more importantly, the study of black history, to Dr. Carter G. Woodson; 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 achievements; and

WHEREAS, Although African-Americans have participated in every major U.S. War, the battle for integration and for recognition of the accomplishments of black soldiers has been a slow process. It wasn't until after World War II that the U.S. Armed Forces became integrated, under a 1948 executive order by President Harry S. Truman; and

WHEREAS, One of the first examples of heroism of African-Americans in this country was displayed in Rhode Island during the Revolutionary War in the Battle of Rhode Island, on August 8, 1778 in the town of Portsmouth. The African-American soldiers 138 in number, were ordered to protect the right flank, where it was said that the fiercest fighting took place. The bravery of these black soldiers turned the tide and brought victory to the American forces; and

WHEREAS, Credit to blacks in the military has gradually been awarded where due and quite often where long overdue. One of the historical black regiments that exemplify the struggles and the contributions made by African-Americans in armed forces was the 54th Massachusetts Infantry, one of the first black units to join the Union during the Civil War. Sgt. William H. Carney from the 54th Massachusetts Infantry risked his life to take the flag and lead the troops after Col. Robert Gould Shaw had been fatally wounded. He was severely wounded by two bullets during the battle but survived to become the first African-American to be presented a Congressional Medal of Honor on May 23, 1900; and

WHEREAS, The courageous accomplishments of these many fearless soldiers are now recorded in history including: the Buffalo Soldiers of the Ninth and Tenth Cavalries and the 38th through 41st Infantries, all composed of African-American soldiers; and the Tuskegee Airmen of World War II headed by Captain Benjamin O. Davis, Jr., who would later become the first African-American Air Force General; and

WHEREAS, In the words of Carter Woodson, on the founding of Negro History Week in 1926, "We should emphasize not Negro History, but the Negro in history. What we need is not a history of selected races or nations but the history, of the world void of national bias, race hate and religious prejudice"; now, therefore be it

RESOLVED, That this Senate of the State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations hereby proudly proclaims February as "Black History Month", and we further recognize and applaud the sacrifices and myriad contributions made by African-American men and women throughout this great nation's history; and be it further

RESOLVED, That the Secretary of State be and he is hereby authorized and directed to transmit duly certified copies of this resolution to the Rhode Island Black Heritage Society, Governor Lincoln Almond, Speaker of the House, John B. Harwood, Majority Leader, Gerard M. Martineau, and the Rhode Island Congressional Delegation.

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