H.R. 586: Civil Rights History Project Act

H.R. 586

Civil Rights History Project Act

Sponsor
Rep. Carolyn McCarthy

Date
April 22, 2009 (111th Congress, 1st Session)

Staff Contact
Communications

Floor Situation

H.R. 586 is expected to be considered on the floor of the House on Wednesday, April 22, under a motion to suspend the rules, requiring a two-thirds majority vote for passage. The bill was introduced by Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (D-NY) on January 15, 2009, and referred to the Committee on House Administration, which marked-up the bill on March 25, 2009, and reported it by voice vote.

Bill Summary

H.R. 586 would establish a new joint project at the Library of Congress and the Smithsonian's National Museum of African American History and Culture. The project would be to collect video and audio recordings of participants in the American Civil Rights movement.

Under the legislation, the Librarian of Congress and the Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution would be required to establish a project to survey audio and video recordings from participants in the Civil Rights movement. The Librarian and the Secretary would be required to create a collection of recordings and other materials obtained from archives, libraries, museums, and other educational institutions, and catalogue the collection. The collection would be made available to the public at the Library of Congress and the National Museum of African American History and Culture.

The Librarian and the Secretary would be authorized to enter agreements with government and private entities to solicit and acquire historic recordings. In addition, the Librarian and the Secretary would be authorized to procure temporary services from experts and consultants, or accept volunteer services, to carry out the bill.

The bill would encourage the Librarian and the Secretary to solicit and accept donations and contributions to support the historic recordings project. H.R. 586 would also authorize $500,000 in Fiscal Year 2010, and "such sums as may be necessary" annually for Fiscal Years 2011 through 2014 to fund the project.

Finally, for the purposes of determining what recordings would be considered historic, the bill would define the "Civil Rights movement" as, "the movement to secure racial equality in the United States for African Americans that, focusing on the period 1954 through 1968, challenged the practice of racial segregation in the Nation and achieved equal rights legislation for all American citizens."

 

Background

According to the bill's findings, the purpose of H.R. 586 is "to create a new federally sponsored, authorized, and funded project that will coordinate at a national level the collection of video and audio recordings of personal histories and testimonials of individuals who participated in the American Civil Rights movement that will build upon and complement previous and ongoing documentary work on this subject, and to assist and encourage local efforts to preserve the memories of such individuals so that Americans of all current and future generations may hear from them directly and better appreciate the sacrifices they made."

The Library of Congress and the Smithsonian Institution already collaborate on the "Save Our Sounds: America's Recorded Sound Heritage Project," which seeks to protect "irreplaceable" American recordings. The Save Our Sounds project archives contain over 140,000 one-of-a-kind American recordings, dating as far back as 1890. The program receives funding through the White House Millennium Council's Save America's Treasures program, which awarded a grant of $750,000, and must be matched by public donations.

Cost

According to CBO, H.R. 586 would cost $4 million over the Fiscal Year 2010 through Fiscal Year 2014 period.