U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) today said that he has joined a bipartisan group of Senators in introducing a bill to establish a joint project between the Library of Congress and the Smithsonian Institution to collect, organize and archive oral histories of key individuals involved in the Civil Rights movement. The Civil Rights History Project Act of 2008 would make the collection available for public use.
“There is a generation of Americans who experienced the Civil Rights movement firsthand, and we must not let their stories about the fight for equality be forgotten,” said Alexander, a member of the Senate Committee on Rules and Administration, which has jurisdiction over the bill. “The lives of real people caught up in this monumental chapter in American history must be preserved so future generations can fully understand the struggles others undertook to transform our nation.”
The bill (S. 3511) would authorize funding for a collaboration of Library of Congress’ American Folklife Center and the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of African American History and Culture to document the civil rights movement by gathering both video and audio recordings of participants in the Civil Rights movement. The Library of Congress and the Smithsonian would maintain the collection and provide Internet access to the public.
S. 3511, introduced by Senator Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.), was also cosponsored by Senators Robert Bennett (R-Utah), Christopher Dodd (D-Conn.), Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.), Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), and Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.). The House companion legislation passed this week with 83 cosponsors.