February 7, 2007
WASHINGTON, D.C., Feb. 7---The United States House of
Representatives today officially recognized the African American
spiritual as a national treasure, unanimously passing H. Res. 120,
which was co-sponsored by Congressman Jim Cooper.
The resolution, which declares African American
spirituals "one of the most significant segments of American music in
existence," calls upon President George W. Bush to join the House in
proclaiming them a national treasure.
Below is an excerpt from Cooper's
remarks on the House floor. His full remarks, and the complete text of
the legislation, can be found at www.congress.gov.
United States Congressman
Representing Tennessee's 5 District
"As the representative from Nashville, Tennessee, I
have the honor of representing Fisk University, which under the able
leadership of Hazel O'Leary is achieving new heights in excellence.
The Fisk Jubilee Singers have been there since 1871 singing some of
the most beautiful music in the world, and a music that's laden with a
"No other music that I'm familiar with covers the range
from agony to inspiration, from the depths of human misery and despair
all the way up to religious bliss. This is remarkable music, and I
would suggest to you that if you haven't heard the Fisk Jubilee
Singers sing it, under the able direction of Dr. Paul Kwami, you have
not fully lived. This is a truly remarkable group and a remarkable,
"So let's praise today the anonymous African American
genius that's allowed these songs to flourish and survive some of the
toughest conditions on our planet. And let's honor groups like the
Fisk Jubilee Singers that keep that tradition alive and fresh for each
"Yes, Mr. Speaker, this is truly a national treasure.
We need to honor and preserve it and spread its wonderful message all
around the world.
"The African American spiritual is part of God's great
heritage. Thank you."