Congressman Clyburn Reintroduces Gullah/Geechee Cultural Preservation Act

Feb 10, 2005

(Washington, DC) - Sixth District Congressman James E. Clyburn has reintroduced the Gullah/Geechee Cultural Heritage Act in the U.S. House of Representatives.  He sponsored similar legislation in the 108th Congress, which passed both the House and Senate but ultimately failed to become law because time ran out before differences could be reconciled between the two measures. 

             The Gullah/Geechee Cultural Heritage Act is the culmination of a three-year study conducted by the National Park Service with funding secured by Congressman Clyburn.  The report underscored the urgent need to preserve the Gullah/Geechee culture and protect indigenous landowners that are both endangered by encroaching development along the Southern coast and Sea Islands.

             "This legislation has garnered more attention than any other bill I have introduced in my 12 years in Congress," Congressman Clyburn said.  "It received overwhelming support last session in both the House and the Senate, and I am hopeful that during the 109th Congress this bill will be enacted into law."

             The Gullah/Geechee Cultural Heritage Act introduced late yesterday differs from the original legislation because it establishes a Gullah/Geechee Heritage Corridor from northern Florida to the North Carolina coast, adding two more states in addition to Georgia and South Carolina, which comprised the originally proposed corridor designation.  Because the number of states in the bill has doubled, Congressman Clyburn increased the authorization in this version from $1 million to $2 million annually for up to 10 years.  The funding is allocated to fulfill the mission of the Commission created in the legislation to manage the corridor. 

             "Because of the groundswell of grassroots support and the extraordinary interest in expanding the initial legislation to include all of the Gullah/Geechee communities along the Southeastern coast, I have expanded the parameters of the bill," Congressman Clyburn continued.   "Rather than hindering its chance of passage, I believe expanding the bill's scope has enhanced its credibility, which is evident in the number of original co-sponsors."

             The Gullah/Geechee Cultural Heritage Act enjoys the bi-partisan sponsorship of all the members of the U.S. House of Representatives that represent the communities included in this legislation - Representatives Henry Brown (R-SC), Joe Wilson (R-SC), Jack Kingston (R-GA), Corrine Brown (D-FL), Ander Crenshaw (R-FL),  John Mica (R-FL), and Mike McIntyre (D-NC).

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