congressman steny hoyer

WASHINGTON, DC – Congressman Steny H. Hoyer (MD-05) spoke on the House Floor this afternoon urging support for H.Con.Res. 70, a bipartisan resolution that condemns the recent bomb threats against historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs), including against Bowie State in Maryland’s Fifth Congressional District, and upholds support for HBCUs and their students, teachers, and staff. Below is a transcript of his remarks and a link to the video:

“I thank my friend, Mr. [Bobby] Scott, the Chairman of this Committee, the Education and Labor Committee, and I want to thank the gentlelady from Iowa for her comments. We join today in unanimity in rejecting hate, rejecting bigotry, rejecting threats based upon the color of skin or any other attribute, rather than adverse conduct.

“Mr. Speaker, I’m proud to be a founding member of the Congressional HBCU Caucus, led by Congresswoman [Alma] Adams from North Carolina. I’m proud because historically Black colleges and universities not only have played a critical role in making quality higher education accessible to more people in my district, but also because these institutions have produced some of the most innovative, entrepreneurial, and transformative leaders for our country. When I first learned about the bomb threats against several HBCU campuses earlier this year, I was deeply alarmed and angered. Disturbingly, these threats continued to occur, including at Bowie State University, Maryland’s oldest HBCU and one of the first in our country. It’s in my district. I picked up the phone and called my friend [Dr.] Aminta Breaux, who is the President of Bowie State University, to ask about her campus, her students, the faculty – their sense of threat and, yes, their sense of well-being.

“On February 2, as the Chairman has outlined he has done, I sent a letter to the Secretary of Homeland Security [Alejandro] Mayorkas and Attorney-General [Merrick] Garland making clear that these threats must be taken seriously and they ought to be investigated as a hate crime. The Chairman has just indicated that is what they are doing. That was, of course, during February, Black History Month. Sadly, the history of Black history, of Black Americans, of those brought here in 1619 in chains, to, for another two-and-a-half centuries, live in those chains or live in segregation, live in a state, and I mean America, not just the South, live in a place where they were discriminated against and shut out.

“The threats made against historically Black colleges and universities in 2022 recall the horrific attacks made on students who worked to integrate higher education during the 1950s and 1960s, against young Freedom Riders.

“Mr. Speaker, I spent this weekend, this past weekend, in Montgomery, Alabama, in Birmingham, Alabama, and in Selma. My dear friend John Lewis, who went with me every time that I went there, he went more often obviously, and we walked across the Edmund Pettus Bridge together. Half of those [times] hand-in-hand. We miss John. But his spirit was there, his cry for justice was there, his cry for freedom and respect was there.  The threats made against historically Black colleges and universities were a failure of some of our citizens to understand the grief, the wrong, the original sin of slavery and the ramifications of that to this very day.

“Today’s young Americans, like those young Americans, deserve to spend their college years free from violence and harassment, free from the hate and intolerance that it manifests. They deserve to learn and grow and expand their horizons without fear of bombs, gun violence, or threats, or attacks. Martin Luther King [Jr.] in his ‘I Have A Dream’ speech spoke about young Black boys and young Black girls with young White boys and young White girls holding hands in solidarity as Americans based upon the content of their character, not the color of their skin.

“This bipartisan resolution before us expresses that determination and concern of the House for the safety and well-being of students, faculty, staff, at historically Black colleges and universities across the country. I want to thank Representative [Alma] Adams and a Republican Member, [Rep. French] Hill. This is bipartisan. This is about America. This is about who we are. This is about who we want to stand up for, and what we want to stand up about.

“Let us come together today in a strong show of unity and resolve to say this kind of hateful and criminal activity has no place in our country and must run counter to our principles of freedom, justice, opportunity, and equality. John Lewis is not with us physically here today, but his spirit is on this Floor, and on his behalf, I urge every one of our colleagues: vote ‘yes’ for justice, for respect, for America. I yield back the balance of my time.”

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