HOUSTON - Congressman Al Green is gathering support to honor what he hopes will be a new nationally recognized holiday. Voices lifted in unison at Fountain of Praise Church in a different kind of harmony Sunday morning.
"We must always remember," chanted the congregation.
They were led by Green who is recruiting the parishioners in recognizing Slavery Remembrance Day on August 20th.
"We have a 911 remembrance, Pearl Harbor remembrance, Holocaust remembrance, but we don’t have slavery remembrance," says Green.
August 20, 1619, is widely believed to be the day the first 20 enslaved Africans were brought to what is now the United States of America. The holiday would commemorate the millions who were captured, sold, and dehumanized through the slave trade and for generations to come, along with the millions of slaves who didn't survive the journey to the New World.
"This is what this is all about- just remembering the lessons of history so that we don’t repeat the horrors of history," says Green. "It’s time for us to mend our differences, but you can’t mend your differences by saying to some people, ‘forget the past’ and allowing other people to celebrate the past."
During the ongoing debate on critical race theory in schools, he says he wants to help put history in perspective.
A similar International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade is held on March 25 and was started by the United Nations in 2008, but it is generally unobserved stateside.
On July 1st, Congressman Green introduced a bill to make Slavery Remembrance Day a nationally recognized holiday. More than a hundred members of Congress have signed on, and the resolution also includes honorary co-sponsorship by former Black members of Congress who served during and after the reconstruction era.
The bill is expected to go up for a vote in early 2022.
"The Holocaust resolution passed Congress unanimously, so we want the slavery resolution to pass Congress," explains Green. "If it doesn’t pass unanimously, history will deal with those who are on the wrong side."
In the meantime, people can start observing the holiday before it goes up for a vote. Additionally, Green hopes the day becomes a national reflection of the worst of our nation's history so that it never repeats itself.
"I’m asking all people to join me on the 20th at noon if you can, by simply placing your right hand over your heart and engaging in a moment of silent solemnity to commemorate the lives that were lost," he said.
View the H.Res. 517: Original Slavery Remembrance Day Resolution of 2021 by clicking here.