Press Release

February 1, 2023
Cardin, Mfume Introduce Legislation to Preserve African American History and Culture

WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senator Ben Cardin joined Congressman Kweisi Mfume (both D-Md.) on the first day of Black History Month to introduce the National Council on African American History and Culture Act of 2023.

This legislation would create a 12-person National Council on African American History and Culture to advise the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) on how they can best amplify the work of Black creators, strengthen teaching and learning in schools to ensure Black history and culture is recognized, and provide critical resources dedicated to preserving Black history.

“African American history is American history. For too long our history lessons failed to fully acknowledge the role of Black Americans. And it happens in far more places than schools – so much of what we have learned for generations about history, music, culture and more has diminished the role of African American creators, writers, musicians and beyond,” said Senator Cardin. “I am proud to partner with Congressman Mfume to advance the creation of a National Council on African American History and Culture. The time has come to ensure that every future generation has a factual and complete understanding of the role African Americans have played in advancing our society, and this legislation moves us in the right direction.”

“We must ensure that Black history is told fully and accurately in America. While the truth of our journey may not be the easiest to tell, it should be protected and celebrated because the story of African American people is intricate and integral to the story of the United States of America – that history must be treated and admired as such,” said Congressman Mfume, who introduced the companion legislation in the House of Representatives. “This bill pushes back against the attacks on African American history in our schools and communities,” he concluded.

Congressman Mfume’s bill in the United States House of Representatives currently has 50 original cosponsors. The legislation is also endorsed by the Maryland Commission on African American History and Culture.

Topline Highlights of the National Council on African American History and Culture Act

•            The Council will be composed of 12 members appointed by the President and confirmed by the United States Senate.

•            The Council will prepare an annual report for the Chairperson of the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), which evaluates various programs and activities of the NEH to document the extent to which they are contributing to the preservation and celebration of Black history and culture.

•            The Council will also:

o            Monitor the work of museums and organizations dedicated to the preservation of Black history and culture;

o            Gather information concerning historical developments and cultural trends in Black history and culture;

o            Propose national policy recommendations to foster and promote the understanding of African American history, the preservation of African American culture, and the celebration of African Americans as contributors to the country’s economic, cultural, and political success; and

o            Make and furnish research and recommendations that the Chairperson of the NEH may request.