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Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton

Representing the District of Columbia

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Norton, Harris Announce Bill to Establish Commission to Honor Bicentennial of Frederick Douglass’ Birth Scheduled for House Floor Consideration, Next Week

Oct 7, 2017
Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) and Congressman Andy Harris (R-MD) today announced that their Frederick Douglass Bicentennial Commission Act is scheduled to be brought to the House floor on Wednesday, October 11, 2017, under suspension of the rules.  The bill would establish a commission to plan, develop and carry out programs and activities to honor and celebrate the life of Frederick Douglass, the country’s greatest abolitionist for slavery, during the bicentennial anniversary of his birth, in 2018.  The bipartisan bill was passed by voice vote by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee in July.  Senators Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) and Ben Cardin (D-MD) introduced the Senate companion to Norton’s bill.

“I thank the House leadership for permitting our bill to go forward in time for the Frederick Douglass Bicentennial Commission’s recommendations to be implemented, and I appreciate Congressman Harris for being the original cosponsor of the bill, as Douglass was born in Maryland.” Congresswoman Norton said.  “Douglass spent most of his adult life in the District of Columbia, and his home is located in Cedar Hill in Ward 8, which attracts thousands of visitors annually, and D.C. residents chose Douglass as our representative statue in the Capitol.  Douglass is admired worldwide, and it is important that the life of this extraordinary American be celebrated across the country, and this commission will ensure it is.”

“I commend the Oversight Committee’s approval of the Frederick Douglass Bicentennial Commission Act and House Leadership’s plan to provide this bill with a vote on the House floor.  As we approach the 200th anniversary of Frederick Douglass’ birth, I urge my colleagues in Congress to support this bill,” Congressman Harris stated.  “The purpose of this bill is more than just honoring the birth of one great civil rights leader.  Its purpose is to recognize his lasting impact on American government, culture, and values.  Frederick Douglass is a model for the values that make our nation great: equality, liberty, and a commitment to working hard and helping others.”

The Commission will plan, develop and carry out programs and activities that are fitting and proper to honor Douglass on the occasion of the bicentennial anniversary of his birth.  The Commission will also recommend to Congress programs and activities that the Commission considers fitting and proper to honor Douglass on such occasion.  The Commission will be composed of 16 members appointed by the president and congressional leadership.  Four members appointed by the president would be based on the recommendations of the D.C. mayor and the governors of Maryland, Massachusetts and New York.