Everyone’s history is important. Yet, the history of African Americans has often been left out of the history books or revised to reflect a half truth or no truth. Avoiceonline.org will preserve the legacy of the Congressional Black Caucus and their role in the shaping of political and legislative participation in the United States. AVoiceonline is the Congressional Black Caucus’ virtual online library in partnership with Dell and Howard University. There has been a recent trend towards revising history known as revisionism. In the history of African Americans, revisionism is nothing new. Often, African Americans were left out of history. In earlier history books, mention was rarely made of anyone black other than Frederick Douglas and perhaps, one other black figure. And if blacks are not careful, they will be written out of history again. As a modern example, the history of the black slaves who built the Capitol would have been left out of the newly built Capitol Visitor’s Center without the recent efforts of Jesse Jackson and others, according to Rep. Emanuel Cleaver II (D. MO). Although, February is black history month, blacks celebrate and live black history every month of the year. African American history is world history, national history and local history. 108 nations now celebrate Martin Luther King’s legacy.
On February 9, 2011, members of the Congressional Black Caucus and guests of the CBCF came together to honor founder, Ron V. Dellums, Dr. Debra Newman Ham, professor of history at Morgan State University and the Coca-Cola Company for its commitment to public discourse on African American history. Dr. Ham is an archivist and black history specialist at the National Archives. In accepting his Avoice award, former Congressman Ron Dellums stated that the next generation will be able to see that principles of integrity do not have to be compromised in order to reach goals. Dellums said AVoice is also for the next generation of idealists and dreamers.
AVoice is the premier source of information on historical and contemporary policy issues for researchers, students, academics and all interested in knowing about history. In addition to creating a tool for researchers and students, the site also offers exhibits of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday bill which shows the 15 hard years and work to bring about the federal holiday to honor Dr. King. It showcases the South African Anti-Apartheid Movement, the Voting Rights Act, Women of the CBC , origins of the CBC and the Environmental Justice Movement, to name a few. Beyond the archival role, the project has further extended to offering public programs and workshops to further cultivate the dialogue on African American leadership.
Proceeds and donations will help digitize more documents. Donations of even small amounts will help ensure that African American history of the Caucus is not re-written, revised, or omitted. Tax deductible donations as small as $10 will help to archive documents. Digital history is the means to preserve African American history for today, tomorrow and forever.
Debbie Hines is an attorney, legal and political commentator. She also writes for the Huffington Post. She studied African American history at the University of Pennsylvania where she received a BA. She holds a Juris Doctorate from George Washington University Law School.