STATEMENT OF JOHN G. PARSONS, ASSOCIATE REGIONAL DIRECTOR FOR LANDS, RESOURCES, AND PLANNING, NATIONAL PARK SERVICE, NATIONAL CAPITAL REGION, AND CHAIRMAN, NATIONAL CAPITAL MEMORIAL COMMISSION, BEFORE THE SUBCOMMITTEE ON NATIONAL PARKS, HISTORIC PRESERVATION AND RECREATION OF THE SENATE COMMITTEE ON ENERGY AND NATURAL RESOURCES CONCERNING H.R. 3201, A BILL TO AUTHORIZE THE SECRETARY OF THE INTERIOR TO STUDY THE SUITABILITY AND FEASIBILITY OF DESIGNATING THE CARTER G. WOODSON HOME IN THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA AS A NATIONAL HISTORIC SITE, AND FOR OTHER PURPOSES.

April 27, 2000


Mr. Chairman, thank you for the opportunity to appear before you today to present the Department of the Interior’s views on H.R. 3201, a bill to authorize the Secretary of the Interior to study the suitability and feasibility of designating the Carter G. Woodson home in the District of Columbia as a National Historic Site, and as a unit of the National Park System.

The Department supports H.R. 3201 with amendments discussed in our testimony.

H.R. 3201 authorizes the Secretary to conduct a special resource study of the Carter G. Woodson home and the Association for the Study of African-American Life and History. This study will examine the national significance and the suitability and feasibility of designating the Carter G. Woodson home as a unit of the National Park System as well as the alternatives for management and protection of the home. After 18 months, the study is to be submitted to the House of Representatives Committee on Resources and the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources.

Dr. Carter G. Woodson is the father of Negro history. He was a preeminent historian of African-American life and history. Dr. Woodson's life was devoted to educating African-Americans and the American public about the contributions black Americans made in the formation of our nation's history and culture. His efforts led to the establishment of the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History in 1915 because of what he saw as the great need to educate the American public concerning those contributions. It is because of Dr. Woodson's efforts that Black History Month is celebrated across the country today.

The association's headquarters and center of operations were located in his home at 1538 Ninth Street, NW, Washington, D.C. Dr. Woodson directed the association's operations, trained researchers and staff, managed the association's budget and fund-raising efforts, and pursued his own study of African American history.

Through the association, Dr. Woodson dedicated his life to educating the American public about the contributions of black Americans to our nation's history and culture. His work in bringing history to bear where prejudice and racism had held sway has played an indispensable role in reducing prejudice and making the need for civil rights remedies clear. Among its enduring accomplishments, the association instituted Negro History Week in 1926 to be observed during the same week in February as the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglas. To assure publication of research on African American history under Dr. Woodson's leadership, the association founded the Associated Publishers in 1920. The Association for the Study of Negro Life and History, renamed the Association for the Study of African-American Life and History, continues to serve and educate people of the importance of African-American history.

Dr. Woodson's home, a Victorian-style house built in 1890, has been designated a National Historic Landmark. Today the Carter G. Woodson home stands boarded up in the historic Shaw District of Washington, D.C.

We recommend three amendments to this legislation. These amendments would insure the study is completed in conformance with the requirements of the National Park Omnibus Management Act passed by Congress in 1998. The text of the amendments is attached to this testimony.

Mr. Chairman, this concludes my prepared testimony. I would be happy to answer any questions you or your committee may have.

Proposed amendments to H.R. 3201:

1) On page 3, line 19, after "Senate a" add "special".

2) On page 4, line 1, strike "identify suitability and feasibility" and insert "include a determination of the national significance, feasibility, and suitability".

3) On page 4, after line 8, insert the following new subsection:

"(c) CRITERIA.—In conducting the study authorized by this Act, the Secretary shall use the criteria for the study of areas for potential inclusion in the National Park System contained in Section 8 of P.L. 91-383, as amended by Section 303 of the National Parks Omnibus Management Act (P.L. 105-391, 112 Stat. 3501)."