Governor Cuomo today signed legislation (S.3204/A.7667) to establish the 400 Years of African-American History Commission. The Commission will develop and carry out activities throughout New York State to commemorate 400 years since the arrival of the first enslaved Africans in the English Colonies. The commission will consist of 15 members selected by the Governor and legislative leaders as well as the Secretary of State and Commissioner of Education.
"This landmark anniversary is an opportunity to once again reflect on the evils of slavery and to honor the struggle and triumph of centuries of African-Americans who have fought against barriers of racial discrimination and enriched and enhanced the fabric of our country," Governor Cuomo said. "The resilience, bravery and contributions of African-Americans will be preserved for our memory by this Commission so that New Yorkers never forget their stories or sacrifice."
Appointed members of the committee will include individuals with expertise in African-American history, arts and culture. The Commission will submit a report to the Governor containing its planned activities and recommendations by June 1, 2022. The work of the Commission is designed to recognize and highlight the resilience and contribution of African-Americans over 400 years; educate New Yorkers about the arrival of enslaved Africans in New York and the United States; and to encourage localities and nonprofits to commemorate this significant marker in African-American history through educational programs. Technical assistance will be provided to the Commission by the Department of State.
Senator Leroy Comrie said, "Chronicling and giving voice, resonance and significance to the immense, pioneering and worthy contributions of African-Americans over the past four centuries is not only necessary from the standpoint of understanding the past, but even more critical for inspiring the future. This legislation is timely and needed more now than ever – both to respond to current conditions in society and to ensure that successive generations of brave, heroic and emboldened African-Americans are remembered and celebrated. I want to extend my gratitude to Assemblywoman Darling and Governor Cuomo for their partnership and initiative on this most essential matter."
Assembly Member Taylor Darling said, "Today is truly an amazing day. I would like to thank my colleague, Senator Comrie for this legislation and Governor Cuomo for his support and signature. This is a valiant effort for New York State to organize a group of individuals who will spread awareness and create effective plans to combat the impact of the last 400 years of slavery in America. Many of today's issues impacting the African American community are a product of our enslavement. I look forward to the great work of this commission as we develop real solutions to progress this beautiful and disenfranchised community."