July 07, 2020

Wyden Co-sponsors 1619 Act to Raise Awareness, Understanding of African American History in Schools

Legislation would provide funding for educators to gain access to educational programming from the National Museum of African American History & Culture


Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Ron Wyden, D-Ore., today announced his co-sponsorship of legislation to increase awareness and understanding of African American history across schools in Oregon and nationwide through expanded access to programming from the National Museum of African American History and Culture.

The 1619 Act would provide federal funding to support African American History educational programs through workshops and professional development activities for educators.

“African American history is American history. From slavery and Jim Crow laws, to the Civil Rights movement and the Black Lives Matter protests of today – students in Oregon and across the country need a foundational knowledge of African American history in order to better understand our nation,” Wyden said. “The 1619 Act would provide schools and educators with the tools they need to expand their curriculum and ensure our children get a broader, more complete understanding of our nation’s past.”

Many schools are not required to teach students about African American history and educators can face barriers including a lack of funding to access quality resources, a lack of awareness of where to find resources, or a lack of knowledge of how to develop or incorporate curricula. The 1619 Act would recognize the importance of African American history at the federal level, provide $10 million in funding over a five-year period and expand the National Museum of African American History and Culture’s education programming to teachers across the country.

This funding would specifically be available to support high school teachers, middle school teachers, school administrators and prospective teachers engage with quality resources on African American history. This in turn would help allow students in schools across the nation to learn more about African American history as well as teach valuable lessons from the African American experience along with the economic, political, social, cultural and other contributions generations of African American leaders have made to our nation.

The 1619 Act would additionally:

  • Expand the National Museum of African American History and Culture professional development programs, through activities such as local, regional and national workshops, teacher trainings with African American history education partners, and engagement with local educational agencies and schools.
  • Require the museum to create and maintain a centralized website for African American history, where educators can find curriculum materials, best practice and resources.
  • Prioritize support for schools that currently do not offer African American history education programs;
  • Organize and promote local, regional and national workshops and teacher trainings with African American history education partners; and
  • Encourage individual states’ education agencies to work with schools in order to integrate these programs within their course curriculum.

Wyden joined Sens. Gary Peters, D-Mich., Robert Casey, D-Pa., and Jacky Rosen, D-Nev., in introducing the 1619 Act, as well as Sens. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., Tammy Baldwin, D-Wisc., Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., Krysten Sinema, D-Ariz., Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., Mark Warner, D-Va., Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., and Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass.