Tri-Caucus Leadership Commits to Protecting Diversity in Nation’s Parks and Monuments

Jan 13, 2017

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the Congressional Tri-Caucus – which is composed of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC), the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC), and the Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC) – sent a letter to President Barack Obama, thanking him for growing the diversity of the nation’s parks and public lands through the Antiquities Act. The Tri-Caucus Chairs also emphasized their commitment to defending those achievements so that the country’s parks and monuments can continue to reflect America’s diverse history. 

“I want to thank President Obama for his commitment to promoting diversity in our national parks and public lands, including the recent designation of national monuments to honor the important history of our civil rights movement. In order to truly showcase our full American story, we must have a national parks system that reflects the diversity of our nation. This includes dark chapters in our nation’s history, such as Japanese American internment during World War II, that we must never repeat nor forget. I will work with my Tri-Caucus colleagues to protect President Obama’s legacy and to ensure that our parks and monuments continue to celebrate an inclusive vision of our shared history,”­­­ said CAPAC Chairwoman Judy Chu (CA-27).

“I am pleased to see President Obama use the Antiquities Act to create a more inclusive network of national parks and monuments that will benefit future generations and honor America’s rich history.  While we expect some to try to roll back the progress the president has made, we are committed to promoting diversity in our parks and monuments. Preserving America’s rich history requires that we celebrate the diverse communities that have helped shape it,” said CHC Chairwoman Michelle Lujan Grisham (NM-01).

“I applaud President Obama for recognizing the role these places played in the struggle for equality. His efforts to highlight these sites will serve to educate the American public about the diverse contributions made by various communities that have been making significant contributions to the American experience, often without proper recognition,” said CBC Chairman Cedric Richmond (LA-02).

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The full text of the letter is below:

January 13, 2017

President Barack Obama

The White House

1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW

Washington, DC 20500

Dear President Obama,

As the Chairs of the Congressional Tri-Caucus – composed of the Congressional Black Caucus, the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, and the Congressional Hispanic Caucus – we write to express our gratitude to you for protecting additional historic places through the Antiquities Act that better reflect the rich diversity of our Nation. 

Your designation of the Birmingham Civil Rights, Freedom Riders, and Reconstruction Era National Monuments is another great example of the steps you have taken to promote diversity in our national parks and other public lands—in this case, shining a light on American history from the Civil War to the civil rights movement. We are appreciative that through your use of the Antiquities Act, you have built a more diverse and inclusive system of parks and monuments that seek to tell our full American story, protecting places like the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad, Cesar E. Chavez, Pullman, Honouliuli, Belmont-Paul Women’s Equality, Stonewall, Papahanaumokuakea and most recently Bears Ears National Monuments.

Unfortunately, there are already efforts underway to undermine the Antiquities Act and possibly these designations as well.  In response to these threats, we will redouble our efforts to protect these specific places and the tool that has made this progress possible. Over the past one hundred years, the Antiquities Act has been used by 16 Presidents – 8 of each party – to protect iconic areas like the Grand Canyon, the Statue of Liberty, President Lincoln’s Cottage at the Soldiers’ Home, and other important historic and cultural sites.  We know that continuing the fight for equality in America includes better preserving and celebrating our country’s full culture and history.  That is why we stand ready to defend the Antiquities Act, and view any attempt to curtail it as an attack on that shared history.

Throughout your Presidency, your use of the Antiquities Act has been in response to years of tireless efforts from local communities and a diverse range of stakeholders, including Tribes, businesses, local elected officials, ranchers, faith groups, community groups, civil rights groups, and congressional members such as ourselves.  And it is these same stakeholders—including the members of the CBC, CAPAC and CHC—who will stand up and defend the Antiquities Act, to ensure that these monuments, as well as future areas, are protected.

Thank you again for your leadership on this issue.

Sincerely,

CEDRIC RICHMOND

JUDY CHU

MICHELLE LUJAN GRISHAM 

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The Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC) is comprised of Members of Congress of Asian and Pacific Islander descent and Members who have a strong dedication to promoting the well-being of the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community. Currently chaired by Congresswoman Judy Chu, CAPAC has been addressing the needs of the AAPI community in all areas of American life since it was founded in 1994.