Today, the House unanimously passed a bipartisan resolution to permanently preserve the stories of past and present Members of Congress who participated in the Civil Rights Movement. The bipartisan initiative was the result of collaboration between House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, Civil Rights leader Rep. John Lewis, Rep. Terri Sewell who represents Selma and Rep. Martha Roby who represents Montgomery. The resolution came to the floor on the eve of the 47th anniversary of the Selma to Montgomery marches and the 12th Congressional Civil Rights Pilgrimage hosted by the Faith & Politics Institute.
WATCH: Luke Russert’s noteworthy piece on this important part of our history and the House bipartisan initiative for NBC Nightly News – HERE
Statements by Rep. Lewis and Majority Leader Cantor
• Leader Cantor: “On March 7, 1965, Congressman John Lewis led hundreds of marchers in Selma, Alabama, in a pivotal moment that led our nation towards equality for all. This week, the House will recognize every Member of Congress who participated in the Selma marches forty-seven years ago, and the pilgrimages that have followed, by adding their testimonies to the historic record of the House. Their stories are part of our nation’s heritage and serve as a reminder to every American of the determination and sacrifice that shaped the greater democracy we live in today.”
• Rep. John Lewis: “This is a gracious act on the part of the Majority Leader and the House leadership to help preserve the history of our democracy. Without the brave and courageous souls who shed blood, sweat and tears in Alabama and throughout the South, this would be a very different nation today. It is very important that members of Congress understand and acknowledge the debt we owe to ordinary people with extraordinary vision who, as Dr. King once said, ‘injected new meaning into the very veins of our democracy.’”
During today’s colloquy, Leader Cantor and Whip Hoyer also discussed the historic passage of the bipartisan measure:
• Whip Hoyer: I thank the gentleman. Mr. Speaker, in closing let me say that Mr. Cantor and I had the opportunity to speak on the floor today. We spoke on behalf of resolution that was passed overwhelmingly unanimously that spoke to commemorating the march that both the Majority Leader and I participated in, in the past. I’ll be participating in again this weekend. A march commemorating the march across the bridge from Selma, intended to march to Montgomery. Today was a day of unity on the floor of this house in which Mr. Lungren and Mr. Lewis and others expressed their thoughts, as did so many of the rest of us about how this is a great lesson on the fact that we have not always been where we promise to be as a nation. But that we made progress. And a reminder that there's still progress yet to be done. So I want to thank the gentleman, the Majority Leader, for his comments that he made on the floor today, and for his focus on this issue. (Colloquy, 3/1/12)
• Leader Cantor: I thank the gentleman and would say that the gentleman has been a huge supporter and participant in the pilgrimage to Alabama, marking that event, that day in history. I look forward to his participation in the process of making sure that the House Historian has the necessary information to accurately reflect the House's role, the Members of the House's role, and certainly the gentleman's role in the pilgrimage to Alabama, celebrating that event. And as he indicates, Mr. Speaker, it is a reminder to us all that this country didn't always get it right but we are continuing to work together to make sure that we are that land of equal rights and opportunity for all. (Colloquy, 3/1/12)