In 2006, Calvin Earl became the Honorary Spokesperson for Twin Resolutions he presented to the US Congress to recognize the African American Spiritual as a National Treasure and honor the slaves for their gifts to our nation with our deepest gratitude and respect.

Calvin Earl

US Congress Historic Twin Resolutions C-Span – H. RES. 120 Coverage

                                    

US Congress Recognize African American Spirituals As National Treasure

Calvin Earl with Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro(CT) Sponsor H. RES. 120 recognizing the African American Spiritual as a National Treasure 2007.  110th US Congress.
Calvin Earl with Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro(CT) Sponsor H. RES. 120 recognizing the African American Spiritual as a National Treasure 2007. 110th US Congress.

 

 

"And in much the same spirit of the Fisk Jubilee Singers, I want to say thank you to a good friend, a musicologist himself, for bringing to my attention the need for the Congress to honor this vital piece of our National Heritage, Calvin Earl. Calvin has dedicated himself to preserving and sharing spirituals with a new generation of Americans. Traveling the country, he builds on the traditional words and melodies to illuminate the history and complexity of this unique art form. It was from Calvin that I learned about this remarkable tradition…" –Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro

H. RES. 120 Recognize African American Spirituals As National Treasure

 

H.RES.120 — Recognizing the African American spiritual as a national treasure. (Introduced in House – IH)

HRES 120 IH

110th CONGRESS

1st Session

H. RES. 120

Recognizing the African American spiritual as a national treasure.

IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

January 31, 2007

Ms. DELAURO (for herself, Mr. LEWIS of Georgia, Mr. VAN HOLLEN, Mrs. JONES of Ohio, Mr. RAHALL, Mr. EHLERS, Ms. CASTOR, Ms. MATSUI, Ms. WOOLSEY, Mr. SHAYS, Mr. HINCHEY, Mr. SNYDER, Mr. LARSON of Connecticut, Mr. CUMMINGS, Ms. MILLENDER-MCDONALD, Mrs. MALONEY of New York, Mr. SCOTT of Virginia, Mr. PAYNE, Mr. DAVIS of Alabama, Mr. RANGEL, Ms. JACKSON-LEE of Texas, Mr. GRIJALVA, Ms. SCHAKOWSKY, Mr. BERRY, Mr. ORTIZ, Ms. CARSON, Ms. NORTON, Ms. SLAUGHTER, Mr. FATTAH, Mr. RUSH, Mr. BERMAN, Mr. GORDON of Tennessee, Mr. CONYERS, Mr. BOYD of Florida, Mr. GONZALEZ, Mr. HOLT, Ms. EDDIE BERNICE JOHNSON of Texas, Mr. MCDERMOTT, Mr. CLAY, Mr. COOPER, Mr. TOWNS, Mr. BISHOP of Georgia, Mr. JEFFERSON, Mr. BUTTERFIELD, Mrs. CHRISTENSEN, Ms. MCCOLLUM of Minnesota, Mr. PRICE of North Carolina, Mr. ROSS, Mr. BECERRA, Mr. SIRES, Mr. KILDEE, Mr. WYNN, and Mr. HONDA) submitted the following resolution; which was referred to the Committee on Education and Labor

RESOLUTION

Recognizing the African American spiritual as a national treasure.

Whereas beginning in 1619, when slavery was introduced into the European colonies, enslaved Africans remained in bondage until 1865, when the United States ratified the 13th amendment to the Constitution;

Whereas during that period of the history of the United States, the first expression of that unique American music was created by enslaved African Americans who–

(1) used their knowledge of the English language and the Christian religious faith, as it had been taught to them in the New World; and

(2) stealthily wove within the music their experience of coping with human servitude and their strong desire to be free;

Whereas, as a method of survival, enslaved African Americans who were forbidden to speak their native languages, play musical instruments they had used in Africa, or practice their traditional religious beliefs, relied on their strong African oral tradition of songs, stories, proverbs, and historical accounts to create this original music, now known as spirituals;

Whereas Calvin Earl, a noted performer and educator on African American spirituals, remarked that the Christian lyrics became a metaphor for freedom from slavery, a secret way for slaves to `communicate with each other, teach their children, record their history, and heal their pain’;

Whereas the New Jersey Historical Commission found that `some of those daring and artful runaway slaves who entered New Jersey by way of the Underground Railroad no doubt sang the words of old Negro spirituals like `Steal Away’ before embarking on their perilous journey north’;

Whereas African American spirituals spread all over the United States, and the songs we know of today may only represent a small portion of the total number of spirituals that once existed;

Whereas Frederick Douglass, a fugitive slave who would become one of the leading abolitionists of the United States, remarked that the spirituals `told a tale of woe which was then altogether beyond my feeble comprehension; they were tones loud, long, and deep; they breathed the prayer and complaint of souls boiling over with the bitterest anguish. Every tone was a testimony against slavery and a prayer to God for deliverance from chains. …’; and

Whereas the American Folklife Preservation Act (Public Law 94-201; 20 U.S.C. 2101 note) finds that `the diversity inherent in American folklife has contributed greatly to the cultural richness of the nation and has fostered a sense of individuality and identity among the American people’: Now, therefore, be it

• Resolved, That the House of Representatives–

◦ (1) recognizes that African American spirituals are a poignant and powerful genre of music that have become one of the most significant segments of American music in existence;

◦ (2) expresses the deepest gratitude, recognition, and honor to the former enslaved Africans in the United States for their gifts to our Nation, including their original music and oral history; and

◦ (3) requests that the President issue a proclamation that reflects on the important contribution of African American spirituals to American history, and naming the African American spiritual a national treasure.

S. RES. 69 Recognize African American Spirituals As National Treasure

Calvin Earl and Senator Robert Menendez (NJ) Sponsor S. RES 69 recognizing the African American Spiritual as a National Treasure in 2007. 110th US Congress
Calvin Earl and Senator Robert Menendez (NJ) Sponsor S. RES 69 recognizing the African American Spiritual as a National Treasure in 2007. 110th US Congress

 

 

 

“Mr. President, I rise today to submit a resolution honoring the African American Spiritual as a national treasure…. I am very proud to sponsor this resolution and grateful to the individuals who helped make this landmark occasion possible. In particular, I would like to thank Calvin Earl, a New Jersey native, who is a noted performer and educator on African American spirituals for his vision and dedication in helping make this resolution a reality.”— Senator Robert Menendez

S. RES. 69 Recognize African American Spirituals As National Treasure

110th CONGRESS

1st Session

S. RES. 69

Recognizing the African-American spiritual as a national treasure.

IN THE SENATE OF THE UNITED STATES

February 5, 2007

Mr. MENENDEZ (for himself, Mr. REID, Mr. COBURN, Mr. OBAMA, Mr. DURBIN, Mr. BIDEN, Mr. LEVIN, Mr. FEINGOLD, Mrs. DOLE, Mrs. CLINTON, Mr. LAUTENBERG, and Mr. KENNEDY) submitted the following resolution; which was referred to the Committee on the Judiciary

RESOLUTION

Recognizing the African-American spiritual as a national treasure.

Whereas since slavery was introduced into the European colonies in 1619, enslaved Africans remained in bondage until the United States ratified the 13th amendment to the Constitution in 1865;

Whereas during that period in the history of the United States, the first expression of a unique American music was created by enslaved African-Americans who–

(1) used their knowledge of the English language and the Christian religious faith, as it had been taught to them in the New World; and

(2) stealthily wove within the music their experience of coping with human servitude and their strong desire to be free;

Whereas as a method of survival, enslaved African-Americans who were forbidden to speak their native languages, play musical instruments they had used in Africa, or practice their traditional religious beliefs, relied on their strong African oral tradition of songs, stories, proverbs, and historical accounts to create an original genre of music, now known as spirituals;

Whereas Calvin Earl, a noted performer of, and educator on, African-American spirituals, remarked that the Christian lyrics became a metaphor for freedom from slavery, a secret way for slaves to `communicate with each other, teach their children, record their history, and heal their pain’;

Whereas the New Jersey Historical Commission found that `some of those daring and artful runaway slaves who entered New Jersey by way of the Underground Railroad no doubt sang the words of old Negro spirituals like `Steal Away’ before embarking on their perilous journey north’;

Whereas African-American spirituals spread all over the United States, and the songs we know of today may represent only a small portion of the total number of spirituals that once existed;

Whereas Frederick Douglass, a fugitive slave who would become one of the leading abolitionists in the United States, remarked that spirituals `told a tale of woe which was then altogether beyond my feeble comprehension; they were tones loud, long, and deep; they breathed the prayer and complaint of souls boiling over with the bitterest anguish. Every tone was a testimony against slavery and a prayer to God for deliverance from chains.’; and

Whereas section 2(a)(1) of the American Folklife Preservation Act (20 U.S.C. 2101(a)(1)) states that `the diversity inherent in American folklife has contributed greatly to the cultural richness of the Nation and has fostered a sense of individuality and identity among the American people’: Now, therefore, be it

• Resolved, That the Senate–

◦ (1) recognizes that African-American spirituals are a poignant and powerful genre of music that have become one of the most significant segments of American music in existence;

◦ (2) expresses the deepest gratitude, recognition, and honor to the former enslaved Africans in the United States for their gifts to the Nation, including their original music and oral history; and

◦ (3) encourages the people of the United States to reflect on the important contribution of African-American spirituals to United States history and to recognize the African-American spiritual as a national treasure.

Congressman Albio Sires (NJ)

“2/7/2007 -Sires Hails Legislation Declaring African-American Spirituals A National Treasure

Rep. Sires congratulates Jersey City resident Calvin Earl for his artistic contribution”

 

“Congressman Sires recognized Jersey City resident Calvin Earl in a speech he gave today on the floor of the House of Representatives in support of the resolution.  Mr. Earl, a musician and storyteller, has made it his life’s mission to educate others through entertainment about the rich history of the African American spirituals.” I congratulate Calvin Earl for devoting his talents to teaching an essential part of our country’s history.   I am proud to be able to contribute to this long overdue recognition,” said Congressman Sires.  “I am pleased the vote for this resolution took place during Black History Month when we recognize the valuable contributions of African Americans to our great nation.”The beauty of the African American spirituals and their messages enrich our lives, and will now be preserved for future generations,” said Congressman Sires.