I have some wonderful news to share.
In a previous post, amid several I did on the early history of our federal Constitution, I reproduced a draft op-ed piece my former colleague and old friend, Maurice Barboza, wrote on the occasion of the 200th anniversary of its approval in Philadelphia in 1787. If you haven’t read it, you must. In it, he challenged the celebration commission’s chairman, the late, former U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice Warren Burger, to seize the occasion to honor the sacrifices of the more than 5,000 Black freedmen and slaves who fought, died for, and helped win our war of Revolution and Nation’s independence.
As I explained, Maurice has been been on a three-decade quest–still unrequited–to redress that wrong and bring honor at last to those heroes so grievously ignored.
A couple days ago, “Mo” sent me a copy of Sen. Joe Lieberman’s press release on Tuesday’s Senate passage (they DID something!) of the Fiscal Year 2013 National Defense Authorization Act, until very recently an annual event as reliable as the death of autumn leaves. He asked me to check out the last paragraph. Here it is:
Bill Includes Lieberman-Grassley Amendment to Honor African American Heroes of the Revolutionary War
Included as part of the NDAA is an Amendment introduced by Senator Lieberman, with Senator Grassley (R-IA), which would authorize the National Liberty Memorial Fund D.C. to construct a memorial adjacent to the National Mall which will honor the over 5,000 African Americans who fought for the United States during the Revolutionary War. These Americans were slaves and free persons who fought for our nation’s independence from Great Britain. This important step forward could not have occurred without years of hard work begun by Maurice Barboza of the National Liberty Memorial Fund D.C., as well as the support of Senator Lieberman’s former colleagues Nancy Johnson and Chris Dodd. When this important provision is signed into law, the descendants of over 800 Connecticut patriots will sometime soon be able to visit the memorial honoring their ancestors’ service, which has never been fully acknowledged.
[Footnote: Mo is himself a Son of the American Revolution, a Connecticut native and direct descendant of Connecticut residents who mustered out for the incipient Republic. He got this done the old-fashioned way–as a constituent. S. 883, co-authored by Lieberman and Grassley, was incorporated without change into the NDAA authorization bill. It’s not law yet; there’s a House-Senate conference committee aborning–and, then, there’s sequestration. (I refuse to use that stupid, media-manufactured phrase–you know, that incorporates a synonym for “financial” and a geographic feature–the only practical use for which seems to be to stampede Wall Street into trampling our 401(k)s–again. Still, it’s as close to a done deal as you get these days.)
In my excitement for him, I wrote back:
WOO-HOO! Congratulations—you must feel like your grandson just graduated college!
Hey, Tim: More like my great, great, great grandson. Thanks, Mo
So–for the first time since 1988–the National Mall Liberty Fund has the congressional imprimatur it needs to complete its mission: a permanent monument in our Nation’s capital city to our Black Revolutionary War Patriots.
It’s a cause every American can and should celebrate–and, for those deficit hawks among you who are at this moment forming a phrase like, “waste of taxpayers’ money,” it will be built and dedicated with private funds, because it has to be. The S. 883 language incorporated into the NDAA expressly prohibits the use of federal funds–just follow the link above. So, shut up.
Please, everyone, get involved. It’s the least we can do–for everyone from Crispus Attucks through Dred Scott to Rosa Parks who stuck up a hand, asked the question–
Hey–I helped build this house; why can’t I live in it like everyone else?
–and was shown the door.