The U.S. Senate today unanimously passed a bill cosponsored by U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) that would 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 2009 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 (H.R. 586), which was unanimously passed by the House of Representatives on Wednesday, 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 its participants. The Library of Congress and the Smithsonian would maintain the collection and provide Internet access to the public.
Alexander is an original cosponsor of the Senate version of H.R. 586, introduced by Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.). Other original cosponsors include Senators Robert Bennett (R-Utah), Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.), Thad Cochran (R-Miss.), and Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.).