The United Nation’s “International Decade for People of African Descent” is already three years old, and U.S. Rep. Hank Johnson is still seeking to have Congressional designation for the decade being observed from Jan. 1, 2015, to Dec. 31, 2024.
The decade, proclaimed by the U.N. General Assembly in 2013, “is seeking to promote the history and heritage of people of African descent, including through research and education, the full and accurate inclusion of their history and contributions in educational curricula, and by recognizing the victims and descendants of the transatlantic slave trade and colonialism, as a means of upholding their human dignity and equality and promoting societal reconciliation and healing.”
On Feb. 15, Johnson, whose 4th District includes portions of DeKalb, Rockdale, Newton and Gwinnett counties, hosted a briefing and panel discussion in Washington, D.C., on House Resolution 713 which he is sponsoring to support the goals and ideals of the U.N. decade and the establishment of a global affairs strategy and assistance for people of African descent.
Johnson, who lives in Lithonia, is sponsoring the resolution with fellow Georgia Reps. John Lewis and David Scott and 19 other members of Congress. He was joined at the briefing by actor and activist Danny Glover, Helsinki Commission policy advisor Dr. Mischa Thompson; International Institute on Race, Equality and Human Rights founder and executive director Carlos Quesada; and Coalition of Black Trade Unionists executive vice president Willie Baker.
Johnson said in a statement that hosting the discussions in February made sense.
“It is fitting that during Black History Month, Americans continue to set aside time to venerate Africans and Afro Descendants and their contributions throughout the Diaspora and all over the world,” he said.
The United Nations proclaimed the International Decade for People of African Descent in 2013 with the theme is “People of African descent: recognition, justice and development.”
Over the decade-long observation, the United Nations is seeking to strengthen national, regional and international cooperation so people of African descent worldwide can achieve full enjoyment of economic, social, cultural, civil and political rights and by getting full and equal participation in all aspects of society.
The resolution is also seeking to support the expansion of the U.N.’s current efforts to address the human rights situation of people of African descent. It calls on the United States – in cooperation with African-descent communities, academics, activists, businesses, and philanthropic organizations – to develop and implement domestic and global strategies to execute the decade’s goals and ideals and combat racism, discrimination, and intolerance in the United States and around the globe.
HR 713 is currently before the House Committee on Foreign Affairs.