Hastings Introduces the African Descent Affairs Act of 2019

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Washington, D.C., March 27, 2019 | comments
Congressman Alcee L. Hastings (D-FL) introduced H.R.1877, the African Descent Affairs Act of 2019, which would establish a U.S. strategy to protect and promote the human rights of people of African descent worldwide. Joining Hastings as original cosponsors include: Representatives Jose Serrano (D-NY), Barbara Lee (D-CA), Steve Cohen (D-TN), John Lewis (D-GA), Gwen Moore (D-WI), Bobby L. Rush (D-IL), and Gregory W. Meeks (D-NY) (Please find attached a copy of the bill):

“The vestiges of colonialism and slavery continue to negatively affect people of African descent around the world, resulting in continuing racial bias and discrimination,” said Hastings. “We must reverse these disturbing trends and facilitate the full and equal participation of people of African descent in our societies, promote knowledge of and respect for the diverse heritage, culture, and contributions of people of African descent, and strengthen and implement legal frameworks that combat racial discrimination.” 

“In 2008, I was pleased to hold a Helsinki Commission hearing on the ‘State of (In)visible Black Europe: Race, Rights and Politics,’ drawing attention to issues of racism and discrimination in Europe and North America. It is alarming that, across the globe, we continue to find racial disparities between those of African descent and other populations in education, employment, health, housing, justice, and other sectors,” continued Hastings. “A global strategy ensures we are monitoring whether countries around the world are providing equal protections and opportunity to all within their borders, and also strengthening black communities as they engage with their governments to address these issues. I am proud to introduce this bill to address the sharp inequities that far too many people of African descent continue to face worldwide.”

“I’m proud to reintroduce the African Descent Affairs Act along with Representative Hastings and my other colleagues,” said Moore. “This bill is not only timely but crucial in shaping policies and programs that directly impact people of African descent, their human rights and a more balanced advancement toward the future.”

BILL SUMMARY:

The African Descent Affairs Act of 2019 would establish an Office of Global African Descent Affairs at the U.S. State Department to develop global foreign policy and assistance strategies beyond the African continent. The bill also would create a fund to support antidiscrimination and empowerment efforts by civil society organizations; require annual State Department human rights reports to include a section on discrimination faced by people of African descent; and create similar initiatives at the United States Agency for International Development.  Previous State Department initiatives such as the Office of Global Women's Issues, the Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism, and special programs focusing on disability, LGBTQ+, and other communities helped aid other vulnerable populations around the world, inspiring the need for this bill. 

Congressman Alcee L. Hastings serves as Vice-Chairman of the House Rules Committee, Chairman of the U.S. Helsinki Commission, and Co-Chairman of the Florida Delegation.

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