Magazine article The Crisis

Online Library Highlights Black Lawmakers

Magazine article The Crisis

Online Library Highlights Black Lawmakers

Article excerpt

The contributions of African American members of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives are now detailed in a new virtual library. The online library, called Avoice, chronicles the political achievements and struggles of Black legislators - from the founding of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) to the recent reauthorization of the 1965 Voting Rights Act.

The Avoice website ( includes photographs, speeches, congressional papers, memos and transcripts of floor debates for current and past members such as Shirley Chisolm. Barbara Jordan and Adam clayton Powell. The website also features exhibits on the Martin Luther King Jr. national holiday and the anti-apartheid movement.

"We've had some great members who did some great things," says Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-Texas), who came up with the idea of preserving the legacy of African American lawmakers. It was about four or five years ago when Johnson, then CBC chair, approached Thurmond Woodard, vice president of diversity and chief ethics officer at Dell, Inc., about archiving the CBC's records, which were scattered in different places - homes, basements, libraries.

"He [Woodard] came up with the idea of a virtual library," remembers Johnson.

Kevin Rollins, president and CEO of Dell, agreed to provide financial backing for the project.

"I realized the value that this new website could bring to the public and citizens around the world," said Rollins during a news conference. "It became clear to me mat Dell and its team must contribute to legacy. …

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