Sending Office: Honorable A. Donald McEachin
Sent By:
Blair.Wriston@mail.house.gov

Help Preserve the Stories and Sites of the Underground Railroad

 Support Funding for the National Park Service’s National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom Program

Deadline: COB Wednesday, March 27, 2019

 

Cosigners: 
Cohen; Cummings; D. Davis; R. Kelly; B. Lee; Moore; Raskin; Sewell; Sires; 

 

Dear Colleague:

 

Please join us in requesting that the Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Subcommittee fund the National Underground
Railroad Network to Freedom program at its full authorized level of $2.5 million for Fiscal Year 2020.

 

Established in 1998, the Network to Freedom program honors and memorializes the stories of enslaved individuals who risked
everything for freedom, as well as the individuals who helped them. The Network to Freedom program, through partnerships with local, state, and federal entities, as well as local stakeholders and organizations, develops programs and partnerships to commemorate
and educate the public about the historical significance of the Underground Railroad. The Network to Freedom program contains over 600 locations in 40 states, as well as the District of Columbia and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

 

If you have any questions or would like to become a signatory of this letter, please contact Blair Wriston (Rep. McEachin)
at extension 5-6365 or Blair.Wriston@mail.house.gov or Lindsey Garber (Rep. Hastings) at extension 5-1313 or
Lindsey.Garber@mail.house.gov by close of business Wednesday, March 27, 2019. 

 

Sincerely,

 

A. Donald McEachin                         Alcee L. Hastings

Member of Congress                         Member of Congress 

April XX, 2019

 

The Honorable Betty McCollum                                                               The Honorable David Joyce

Chairwoman                                                                                               Ranking Member

Subcommittee on Interior, Environment,  & Related Agencies                 Subcommittee on Interior, Environment, & Related Agencies                                                                             
         

B-308 Rayburn HOB                                                                                 1106 Longworth HOB

Washington, D.C. 20515                                                                           Washington, D.C. 20515     

   
Dear Chairwoman McCollum and Ranking Member Joyce:

As you draft the Fiscal Year (FY) 2020 Interior Appropriations bill, we respectfully request that you fund the National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom program
at its fully authorized level of $2.5 million. The program is financed from the National Park Service Resource Stewardship account and administered by the National Park Service as a competitive matching grants program.

From colonial times through the Civil War, the Underground Railroad refers to the effort of enslaved individuals to self-liberate. By the mid-1800s, a locally organized,
national network of individuals, or “conductors,” evolved to offer aid and shelter to these freedom seekers. Conductors would guide runaway slaves to “stations,” or safe houses, that would eventually lead them to freedom. Many prominent individuals played
a pivotal role in the Underground Railroad, including Harriet Tubman, Frederick Douglas, John Fairfield, John Brown, and Levi Coffin. According to one estimate, more than 100,000 slaves fled the South through the Underground Railroad between 1810 and 1850.[I]

Preserving the stories and sites connected to the Underground Railroad and those who risked their lives to make the harrowing voyage is crucial
to our nation’s history and must be preserved before it is forgotten. It is critically important that our conservation efforts are inclusive of all of America’s heritage – and that we work to protect and preserve historic sites, like those connected to the
Underground Railroad, that represent the stories of all Americans.

Established in 1998, the Network to Freedom program honors and memorializes the stories of enslaved individuals who risked everything for freedom, as well as the individuals
who helped them. The Network to Freedom program, through partnerships with local, state, and federal entities, as well as local stakeholders and organizations, develops programs and partnerships to commemorate and educate the public about the historical significance
of the Underground Railroad. The Network to Freedom program contains over 600 locations in 40 states, as well as the District of Columbia and the U.S. Virgin Islands, including the Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Pennsylvania, Dr. Nathan M. Thomas
House in Michigan, and the Levi Coffin House in Indiana.

Key to the success of the National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom program has been its matching grants formula, which encourages state, local, and nonprofit investment
in preservation. Preserved sites are economic drivers for communities, bringing in tourism dollars that are extremely important to local economies.

This funding is critical to saving Underground Railroad sites and preserving our history for future generations. As such, we respectfully request that the Appropriations
Committee and the Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Subcommittee include $2.5 million for the National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom program in FY2020. Thank you in advance for your consideration of funding for this important program.

Sincerely,


[i]
http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/aia/part4/4p2944.html

Related Legislative Issues

Selected legislative information: Appropriations, Environment, Natural Resources

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