R 083
2023 -- H 5326
Enacted 02/02/2023

H O U S E   R E S O L U T I O N

Introduced By: Representatives Felix, Hull, Abney, Biah, Shekarchi, Blazejewski, Henries, Chippendale, Tanzi, and Kennedy

Date Introduced: February 02, 2023

     WHEREAS, Throughout the history of the United States of America, truly significant
African-American contributions to the economy, social growth, sciences, and arts in this great
nation have all too often been ignored. In recognition of this plethora of major accomplishments
made by men and women of African ancestry, the month of February is celebrated as "Black
History Month" across the nation; and
     WHEREAS, It is also vital to understand that every day of every month of every year in
the history of our country, significant and historical contributions have been made by African-
Americans; and
     WHEREAS, African-Americans were first brought to America forcibly. They were
enslaved, faced inhuman cruelty, and were subjected to injustices beyond understanding. Families
were torn apart, lynching went unpunished, and segregation and denial of fundamental
constitutional rights and protections went on for decades; and
     WHEREAS, Though these men and women suffered immense tragedies and social
inequalities, they also persevered, and their triumphs and contributions to the economic, artistic,
literary, scientific, and technological advancement of our country are significant and momentous;
     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 its inclusion in the
formation of the United States, to the rich diversity of today's Ocean State; and
     WHEREAS, From the initial shots fired in the struggle for American Independence, to
the participation of the Rhode Island 1st Black Regiment in the Battle of Newport, to the garrisons
of the Rhode Island 14th Heavy Artillery Regiment (Colored) in 1863, Americans of African
descent have responded to the call of duty; and
     WHEREAS, In recognition of the numerous positive and patriotic contributions of
African-American Rhode Islanders in the United States military, we honor their legacy of
bravery, honor, and sacrifice. From the earliest recordation of Black History in our state,
including those of slaves, former slaves, and free men, African-Americans have served with pride
to protect our vital interests and provide for our common defense; and
     WHEREAS, Structures in the City of Newport, such as the Brick Market, later used as
the town hall and theater; the Old Colony House, which at one time served Rhode Island as its
capitol; and the oldest library in America, the Redwood Library, stand as lasting and beautiful
tributes to the African-Americans who lived in our state and played a major role in the
construction of these magnificent historic structures; and
     WHEREAS, Many African-Americans have made enormous and significant
contributions to our nation, from Dr. Martin Luther King, whose eloquent and courageous actions
on behalf of freedom and liberty for all earned him the Nobel Peace Prize and started our nation
on the long and all-too-slow path towards equality for all, and President Barack Obama our
nation's first African-American President, who continued and expanded upon Dr. King's vision
through his support for expanding healthcare access for everyone, diversified the federal
bureaucracy, strengthened women's right to fair pay, and protected LGBTQ citizens from
employment discrimination; and
     WHEREAS, Other African-Americans who have contributed much to our nation's
vibrancy and success include Maya Angelou, the noted poet, civil rights activist, and recipient of
the Spingarn Medal from the NAACP and the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President
Barack Obama, famed novelist James Baldwin, famous inventor George Washington Carver,
Civil Rights activist and educator Mary McLeod Bethune, Congresswoman Shirley Chisolm, the
first African-American to run for President of the United States, noted author and abolitionist
Frederick Douglass, Doctor Charles Drew, whose research and work on plasma literally saved
millions of lives, famous sociologist, writer and activist W.E.B. Du Bois, noted jazz composer
and bandleader Duke Ellington, Civil Rights activist Jesse Jackson, film director Spike Lee,
famed actors Sidney Poitier and Denzel Washington, the great Hall of Fame baseball player
Jackie Robinson, who courageously faced down death threats to integrate Major League Baseball,
famous boxers and American heroes Joe Louis and Muhammed Ali, Supreme Court Justice
Thurgood Marshall, who, as a lawyer, won the famous Brown v. Board of Education public
school desegregation case before the United States Supreme Court, photographer Gordon Parks,
Olympic heroes Jesse Owens and Rafer Johnson, Abolition activists Sojourner Truth and Harriet
Tubman, and noted educator, Civil Rights activist Booker T. Washington, golf legend Tiger
Woods, tennis superstars Serena and Venus Williams and numerous other African-Americans;
     WHEREAS, The United States and particularly the State of Rhode Island owe a debt of
gratitude to our African-American citizens and their forefathers, whose documented
achievements have too long gone unrecognized; and
     WHEREAS, The theme for 2023 Black History Month is "Black Resistance." "African
Americans have resisted historic and ongoing oppression, in all forms, especially the racial
terrorism of lynching, racial pogroms, and police killings since our arrival upon these shores.
These efforts have been to advocate for a dignified self-determined life in a just democratic
society in the United States and beyond the United States political jurisdiction"; now, therefore be
     RESOLVED, That this House of Representatives of the State of Rhode Island hereby
proudly proclaims February as "Black History Month", and furthermore recognizes and applauds
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 hereby is authorized and directed to
transmit a duly certified copy of this resolution to the Rhode Island Black Heritage Society.