21.531.10 96th Legislative Session 618

2021 South Dakota Legislature

House Concurrent Resolution 6005

Introduced by: Representative Phil Jensen

A CONCURRENT RESOLUTION, Celebrating Black History Month.

WHEREAS, the accomplishments of African Americans throughout this country's history have been abundant, significant, and far-reaching, and have helped shape this country into an exceptional nation of unprecedented opportunity and achievement; and

WHEREAS, the countless contributions by African Americans have been varied and diverse, as well as indispensable and inspiring, and have influenced politics, religion, education, science, research, business, entrepreneurship, and the military, among others; and

WHEREAS, many important and indisputable facts from our history have been underemphasized and overlooked; and

WHEREAS, the first Africans were originally brought to North America unwillingly, having been conquered, captured, and sold by other African tribes and Muslim slave-catchers to the Dutch and other traders journeying to America; and

WHEREAS, the first African slaves in North America were brought by the Spanish to their colonies in the Florida region in 1565; and

WHEREAS, the first African slaves in a North American English colony arrived in Virginia in 1619, but became indentured servants instead of remaining slaves, earning their freedom, with the state giving them their own land after a set number of years; and

WHEREAS, the first documented occasion of legalized black chattel slavery in the English colonies of America did not occur until 1651, in Virginia, when free African American, Anthony Johnson, sued and won the right to own another African American for life; and

WHEREAS, a slave ship arrived in 1646, in New England, whereupon the slaves were freed, and the slave owners imprisoned, being charged with the capital crime of man-stealing; and

WHEREAS, the two English colonies of Virginia and Massachusetts began a dual track for African Americans, with much slavery and oppression in the South and much freedom and opportunity in the North, including the early right to vote and hold office; and

WHEREAS, African Americans contributed much to this country's rich colonial history, including political officials such as Mathias DeSouza, who was elected to office in 1641; Wentworth Cheswill, who was elected to office in 1768 and reelected for the next 49 years to eight different political offices; and Thomas Hercules, who was elected to office in 1793; and

WHEREAS, one of the first casualties of the movement for Independence was black patriot Crispus Attucks, who was shot by British soldiers during the Boston Massacre; and

WHEREAS, notable black soldiers in the War for Independence included James Armistead, Jack Sisson, Prince Whipple, Peter Salem, Salem Poor, Lemuel Haynes, Richard Allen, Prince Estabrook, Crispus Attucks, Jordan Freeman, Oliver Cromwell, Brister Baker, and numerous others; and

WHEREAS, during the War for Independence, blacks and whites served together, in integrated units, in virtually every battle of the war and African Americans routinely reenlisted, voluntarily serving an average of nine times longer than white soldiers; and

WHEREAS, influential black colonial clergymen included Richard Allen, the founder of this country's first black denomination; Absalom Jones, the first black clergyman to be ordained in a major Christian denomination; Lemuel Haynes, the first black American to receive a degree in higher education and to have a sermon published, while pastoring multiple white churches; and Harry Hoosier, credited as being the namesake of the Hoosier state - Indiana; and

WHEREAS, African Americans also contributed to this country's history, well beyond the colonial era and the country's founding; and

WHEREAS, throughout the 18th and 19th centuries, there were many distinguished African American entrepreneurs and business leaders, including Paul Cuffe, Stephen Smith, Clara Brown, Robert Gordon, Bridget Mason, and Charles Patterson; and

WHEREAS, notable 19th century black soldiers included Robert Smalls, the first black United States naval captain and Major General in the South Carolina militia and William Carney, Christian Fleetwood, Alfred Hilton, Charles Veal, and Alexander Kelly—five of the seven black Americans who received the medal of honor for protecting this country's flag—with many others receiving that medal for other acts of courage; and

WHEREAS, in the 19th century, influential African Americans included federal political leaders such as Hiram Rhodes Revels, the first black United States Senator; Blanche Kelso Bruce, the second black United States Senator and the first black man to be nominated for Vice President and to have his name printed on federal currency; and Joseph Hayne Rainey, the first black man to preside over the United States House of Representatives; and

WHEREAS, distinguished black ministers and civil rights advocates who should be honored, include Frederick Douglass, Henry Highland Garnet, Booker T. Washington, Harriet Tubman, and Sojourner Truth, and more recently Dr. Martin Luther King Jr; and

WHEREAS, many critics today wrongly assert that the United States Constitution was a pro-slavery document, pointing to the three-fifths clause and claiming the Constitution states that blacks are only three-fifths of a person; and

WHEREAS, famous black clergyman and abolitionist Frederick Douglass had been told this and accepted that the Constitution was a pro-slavery document, until he read it for himself, together with the writings of those men who actually wrote the document; and

WHEREAS, after personal examination, Frederick Douglass concluded that the Constitution was an anti-slavery document and declared, "I defy the presentation of a single pro-slavery clause in it" and that, to the contrary, "it will be found to contain certain principles and purposes entirely hostile to the existence of slavery"; and

WHEREAS, Frederick Douglass understood that the three-fifths clause dealt only with representation and not the worth of any individual, regardless of color; and

WHEREAS, many today overlook or ignore this country's positive record on race and slavery; and

WHEREAS, by 1804, every northern state had passed laws for the abolition of slavery; and

WHEREAS, in 1807, the United States became the first nation in the world to sign a law banning the slave trade, with Great Britain doing so shortly thereafter; and while the British law went into effect two months before that of the United States, it contained major loopholes, which the United States law did not, causing the United States to be the first nation in the world with an immediate ban on the slave trade; and

WHEREAS, beginning in 1819, the United States dispatched and maintained a naval presence off the coast of Africa to prevent other nations from taking slaves out of Africa, and United States naval vessels intercepted and turned back numerous ships from other countries, continuing this effort until the outbreak of the Civil War, when those ships were called home to fight the southern slave-holding Confederacy; and

WHEREAS, the United States was not a major world leader in the African slave trade; for of the 12.7 million Africans involuntarily removed from Africa and sold into slavery from 1501-1875, 46 percent were made slaves in Portuguese holdings, 26 percent in English holdings, 11 percent in French holdings, 8 percent in Spanish holdings, and 4 percent in Dutch holdings, while only 2.4 percent were brought to the United States; and

WHEREAS, of the nearly 200 nations in the world today, 94 still have not criminalized slavery or the slave trade; and

WHEREAS, there are currently 40 million slaves in the world—three times more than were taken in the entire 400 year history of the transatlantic African slave trade; and

WHEREAS, the United States is ranked as one of the top nations in the world when it comes to fighting slavery, the slave trade, and human trafficking; and

WHEREAS, despite early progress and work in advancing racial freedom and equality, those issues have become more political and polarizing, with many leaders directly opposing freedom and racial equality; and

WHEREAS, one example is a 1789 law that prohibited slavery in the federal territories but was reversed, in 1820, when Democrats passed the Missouri Compromise; and

WHEREAS, in 1850, the Democrat-controlled Congress passed the Fugitive Slave Law, denying even minimal constitutional protections to accused slaves and allowing slave-hunters to take blacks from the North to slavery in the South; and

WHEREAS, in 1854, the Democrat-controlled Congress passed the Kansas-Nebraska Act, legally allowing the extension of slavery all the way north, to Canada, through many formerly anti-slavery territories; and

WHEREAS, in May of 1854, following the passage of pro-slavery laws in Congress, a number of anti-slavery Democrats joined with anti-slavery members of Congress to form the Republican Party, to fight slavery and secure equal civil rights for black Americans; and

WHEREAS, in 1856, Republicans issued their first national platform, affirming the call, not only for the end of slavery, but also for equality and civil rights; and

WHEREAS, in 1857, the majority Democrat United States Supreme Court delivered the Dred Scott decision, declaring that blacks were not persons, but property, that blacks had no rights, and that Congress could not ban slavery anywhere; and

WHEREAS, the 1860 Democrat platform openly supported slavery and Democrats gave out a copy of the Dred Scott decision, along with their platform, to show they agreed with that Court's decision; and

WHEREAS, in the 1860 presidential election, anti-slavery candidate Abraham Lincoln represented the Republican Party, and the national Democrat vote was split between three pro-slavery candidates—Stephen Douglas of Illinois, John Breckenridge of Kentucky, and John Bell of Tennessee—with Lincoln receiving 39 percent of the national popular vote and 60 percent of the electoral votes, and the pro-slavery Democrats receiving 61 percent of the popular vote and 40 percent of the electoral votes, after which Abraham Lincoln became president; and

WHEREAS, Republicans not only won the presidency but also gained control of the United States House and Senate, after the majority of pro-slavery Democrats resigned and seceded, and they began passing anti-slavery and civil rights laws; and

WHEREAS, in 1865, when the 13th Amendment was passed to abolish slavery, only 21 percent of Democrats in Congress voted to end slavery; and

WHEREAS, on the same day that Congress abolished slavery, Republican Senator Charles Sumner took black American attorney—and teacher, dentist, and physician—John Rock to the United States Supreme Court, where he became the first black American to be admitted to the Supreme Court bar; and

WHEREAS, after the passage of the 13th Amendment, Republicans asked black pastor, Rev. Henry Highland Garnet, a former slave, to preach a sermon commemorating the end of slavery at the church service held every Sunday in the Hall of the House of Representatives inside the United States Capitol; and

WHEREAS, the Rev. Garnet preached his sermon on Sunday, February 12, 1865, recalling: "What is slavery? Too well do I know what it is . . . . I was born among the cherished institutions of slavery. My earliest recollections of parents, friends, and the home of my childhood are clouded with its wrongs. The first sight that met my eyes was my Christian mother enslaved"; and

WHEREAS, by this sermon, Garnet became the first black American officially to speak in the halls of Congress; and

WHEREAS, the 14th Amendment securing civil rights for black Americans was passed, without a single Democrat vote of support, and the 15th Amendmentsecuring voting rights—was then passed, also without Democrat support; and

WHEREAS, when black Americans in southern states received civil rights, including the right to vote, they promptly elected state Republican Legislatures across the South, which moved quickly to protect voting rights for African Americans, prohibit segregation, and open public education, public transportation, and state police, schools, and other institutions to black Americans; and

WHEREAS, black Americans became active legislators in the South, with the first 42 blacks elected to the state Legislature in Texas being Republicans, along with the first 127 black legislators in Louisiana, the first 103 in Alabama, the first 112 in Mississippi, the first 190 in South Carolina, the first 46 in Virginia, the first 30 in Florida, the first 30 in North Carolina, the first 41 in Georgia; and

WHEREAS, the first 23 black legislators elected to the United States Congress were Republicans, and were largely from the southern Democrat states, where 13 of them had been slaves; and

WHEREAS, in 1866, Democrats began to retaliate against black advancement in the southern states, not only by the manipulation of election laws in the South, but also by physical violence—as in Louisiana, where 40 black and 20 white Republicans were killed, with 150 more wounded, at the Republican Party convention; and

WHEREAS, in 1866, Democrats openly acknowledged in congressional hearings that they formed the Ku Klux Klan, as a political affiliate, to help regain Democrat control in elections; and

WHEREAS, the national leader and Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan was a prominent Democrat leader and former Confederate General—Nathan Bedford Forest—an honored member of the Democrat National Convention of 1868; and

WHEREAS, the Ku Klux Klan reign of violence often targeted and lynched not only blacks, but also white Republicans, with 3,345 blacks and 1,297 whites being lynched between 1882 and 1964; and

WHEREAS, by 1875, Republicans had successfully passed almost two dozen civil rights laws to secure equality and full civil rights; and

WHEREAS, in 1876, Democrats regained control of the United States House and not only successfully blocked further civil rights progress, but began repealing existing civil rights laws so that it would be another 89 years before the next federal civil rights law was passed; and

WHEREAS, Democrats also regained control of southern state legislatures, becoming known as the "solid Democrat South"; and

WHEREAS, Democrats succeeded in barring southern blacks from federal elected offices for an additional 70 years; and

WHEREAS, Democrats did not elect their first black American to the United States House until 1935, nearly 65 years after Republicans had done so, and no black Democrats from the South were elected to Congress until 1973, more than a century after Republicans, and that 1973 election occurred only after the United States Supreme Court struck down the gerrymandered district lines that Democrat state legislators had drawn to keep blacks from being elected to federal office; and

WHEREAS, Democrats strongly opposed equal education for all students, as evidenced by 87 percent of congressional Democrats voting against the 1872 civil rights education bill, and burned down many schools and churches in which black children were being taught, thereby causing segregated, inferior, and dilapidated schools to became the norm for black children in the southern states under Democrat control; and

WHEREAS, in the 1954 case of Brown v. Board of Education, the United States Supreme Court struck down mandatory state segregation laws in education, thereby reinstating the anti-segregation standard that Republicans had passed nearly 75 years earlier, in the 1875 civil rights bill, which had been strongly opposed by Democrats at the time; and

WHEREAS, 100 Democrats in the United States Congress—19 Senators and 81 Representatives—passed the "Southern Manifesto," denouncing the Court's 1954 decision to end segregation; and

WHEREAS, although under President Franklin Roosevelt, the Democrat platform for the first time called for an end to racial discrimination, Democrats in Congress killed every piece of civil rights legislation introduced in that era; and

WHEREAS, when Democrat President Harry S. Truman introduced an aggressive ten-point civil rights legislative package that included an anti-lynching law, a ban on the poll tax, and desegregation of the military, Democrats killed all of his proposals, including his proposed Civil Rights Commission; and

WHEREAS, Republican President Dwight D. Eisenhower issued executive orders to eliminate racial discrimination and segregation in the District of Columbia and federal agencies, and became the first president to appoint a black American, Frederick Morrow, to an executive position on the White House staff; and

WHEREAS, in 1957, Eisenhower proposed a bold civil rights bill to increase black voting rights and protections, but it was blocked by Democrat Senator James Eastland, who is credited with killing every civil rights bill that came before his committee in the 1950s; and

WHEREAS, in 1960, Democrat President John F. Kennedy refused to sign an executive order to integrate public housing until the violent racial discord in Birmingham in 1963 caused him to change his mind, after which he began promoting the civil rights bill; and

WHEREAS, when Democrat President Lyndon Johnson promoted the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which he had voted against while serving in the United States Senate, it was halted by Democrat Senators Robert Byrd and Richard Russell, until Republican Senator Everett Dirksen was able to move the measure forward, thereby enacting the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and following it with the Voting Rights Act of 1965; and

WHEREAS, it was the Republicans in Congress who made possible the passage of both the 1964 Civil Rights Act and the 1965 Voting Rights Act, for at the time Democrats had 315 members in Congress, holding almost two-thirds of the House and two-thirds of the Senate, needing only 269 votes to pass those bills, but garnering only 198 Democrat votes; and

WHEREAS, Democrats had it completely within their power to pass those landmark civil rights bills but did not, and Republicans overwhelmingly supported the 1964 Civil Rights Act, with 83 percent of Republicans voting for that bill—a percentage of support almost 20 points higher than that of the Democrats; and

WHEREAS, the most recognizable civil rights leader of that era was the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., a Christian minister who was with President Johnson when the famous civil rights bill was signed into law; and

WHEREAS, the contributions of not only the African Americans noted above but also of countless others, should also be recognized and honored; and

WHEREAS, the story of black heroes, over the past three-and-a-half centuries, needs to be told and understood by all people today, but is often ignored or rewritten; and

WHEREAS, these heroes are not just black heroes, but national heroes, and deserve to be honored by all people of this country, regardless of race or ethnicity; and

WHEREAS, the State of South Dakota is committed to preserving historical literacy and honoring the names and lives of those who have contributed so much to making the United States such a remarkable nation among the nations of the world:

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, by the House of Representatives of the Ninety-Sixth Legislature of the State of South Dakota, the Senate concurring therein, that the Legislature urges each resident to become familiar with the names noted in this resolution and to investigate and understand the truly remarkable achievements of those individuals; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that South Dakotans celebrate the contributions of all people, especially those of black heritage, during Black History Month, and express gratitude for contributions that have spanned generations and will impact many more in the coming years.

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