Feb 7, 2007
Press Release

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.


"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 God-given message.

"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, inspirational message.

"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 new generation.

"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."