Hastings Introduces Resolution Recognizing People of African Descent and Black Europeans

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Washington, D.C., March 27, 2019 | comments
As we commemorate the United Nations designated International Decade for People of African Descent, Congressman Alcee L. Hastings (D-FL) introduced H.Res.256, Recognizing People of African Descent and Black Europeans, which acknowledges the achievements and contributions of people of African descent and black Europeans in the face of persistent racism and discrimination. Joining Hastings as original cosponsors include: Representatives Gwen Moore (D-WI), John Lewis (D-GA), and Gregory W. Meeks (D-NY) (Please find attached a copy of the bill):

“While the presence of blacks in Europe can be traced to enslavement, colonization, military deployments, voluntary or forced migration, movement of refugees and asylum seekers, or educational and other professional exchanges.  The story of Europeans of African descent and black Europeans still remains largely untold, rendering many of their past and present contributions unseen or forgotten. This is unacceptable. I am proud to introduce this resolution, which is vital to celebrating these often untold contributions, acknowledging the long-term impact of the injustices of slavery and colonialism, and setting the foundation needed to understand how to address the sharp inequities that far too many people of African descent continue to face across the globe,” said Hastings.

BILL SUMMARY AND BACKGROUND:

H.Res.256 encourages the celebration of the collective history and achievements of those of African descent in Europe. It supports efforts by the European Parliament, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe Parliamentary Assembly, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, and the U.S. Congress to promote racial equality and combat racial discrimination. It also encourages European governments and members of civil society and the private sector to work with black European communities to implement national strategies to address inequality and racism, and urges the U.S. government to support such efforts. Furthermore, H.Res.256 endorses recommendations to overcome racial disparities in Europe made at the 2018 People of African Descent Week.

Yesterday, the European Parliament passed a similar resolution recognizing that African descendants have long been a part of the fabric of Europe, and seeking to address findings on discrimination and harassment documented in the European Union’s (EU) Fundamental Rights Agency report, 'Being Black in the EU.' The European Parliament resolution calls on EU Member State governments to acknowledge and address the impact of enslavement, forced labor, racial apartheid, massacre, and genocide in the context of European colonialism and the transatlantic slave trade, and for the EU to develop strategies to address structural racism and underrepresentation in EU institutions.

In 2008, Congressman Hastings first drew attention to the racism and discrimination faced by black Europeans during a Helsinki Commission hearing on the ‘State of (In)visible Black Europe: Race, Rights and Politics.’ In 2009, Congressman Hastings co-hosted the Black European Summit in Brussels, bringing together black and minority political and intellectual leaders to discuss barriers to political participation and strategies for inclusion.

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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