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House Approves Resolutions Honoring Harriet Tubman, Recognizing Women’s History Month

Harriet Tubman

On April 1, the House approved, 416-0, H. Con. Res. 310, a resolution expressing support for a national day of remembrance for Harriet Ross Tubman. The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee approved the resolution on March 13 (see The Source, 3/14/08).

Speaking in support of the resolution, Rep. Betty McCollum (D-MN) said, “I am proud to be a cosponsor of this resolution, which recognizes the courage and sacrifice with which Harriet Tubman led slaves out of bondage and into freedom. Her work was an important part of moving the U.S. toward a more perfect union…While the Civil War has long since ended and slavery been abolished, many Americans continue to be enslaved by new forms of abuse and discrimination. Domestic violence and economic inequality imprison many today in fear and submission. Thankfully, Harriet Tubman’s actions continue to inspire Americans to find the courage to help each other. In Minnesota, her legacy is alive in the activities of the Tubman Family Alliance agency, which provides safe passage from violence for women and children, and helps them achieve their own freedom, just as Harriet Tubman helped so many people achieve freedom.”

Rep. Tom Davis (R-VA) said, “Madam Speaker, Harriet Tubman is an American icon. She exemplified the ideals of courage, loyalty, and commitment in the face of adversity. After escaping from slavery in 1849, she immediately returned to Maryland at great personal risk to rescue her family members and others still bound in slavery. Some of the houses she used to stow escaped slaves are but a few miles from this very chamber…As a member of the Union Army during the Civil War, Tubman became the first woman in American history to lead an armed expedition. When slavery finally ended in the United States, she turned her considerable talents and energies towards the women’s suffrage movement. She represented all that is great about America: the ability, the will, and the wherewithal to do that which is right and, more importantly, to do it for precisely that reason.”

Women’s History Month

The same day, the House also approved, 413-0, H. Res. 1021, a resolution supporting the goals, ideals, and history of “National Women’s History Month.” The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee approved the resolution on March 13 (see The Source, 3/14/08).

Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX) said, “The popularity of women’s history celebrations has sparked a new interest in uncovering women’s forgotten heritage…Mr. Speaker, in the early days of our great nation, women were relegated to second-class status. Women were considered sub-sets of their husbands, and after marriage they did not have the right to own property, maintain their wages, or sign a contract, much less vote. It was expected that women be obedient wives, never to hold a thought or opinion independent of their husbands. It was considered improper for women to travel alone or to speak in public…As a nation, we have come a long way toward recognizing the important role women play, not only in our local communities, but in our nation as a whole. Since 1917, when Representative Jeannette Rankin of Montana became the first woman to serve in Congress, 243 more women have served as U.S. representatives or senators. In 1968, Shirley Chisholm became the first African-American woman elected to Congress; I am now proud to be one of 13 African-American women serving in this body.”

Rep. Tom Davis (R-VA) said, “The contributions made by women to our nation can’t be overlooked…The Women’s Suffrage Movement finally made America whole. Today, American women enjoy many of the fruits of these early labors. They serve at, or near, the highest levels of government, business, and other positions of power and influence. The doors to careers, education, and achievement seem as open to them as to men. But that doesn’t mean the struggle is over or that heroines of the past should be forgotten. Mr. Speaker, I ask all members to join me by supporting this resolution. I want to again thank Representative [Lynn] Woolsey [D-CA] for bringing this to our attention and thank Chair [Henry] Waxman [D-CA] and Chair [Danny] Davis [D-IL] for their assistance in bringing this [resolution] to the floor.”

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