“A fundamental principle of American democracy is that individuals should stand up for their rights and beliefs and fight for justice.” ~ Civil Rights History Project Act of 2009.

President Obama on Tuesday signed the Civil Rights History Project Act of 2009, which directs the Librarian of Congress and the Smithsonian Institution to collect video, audio and written testimonials of people who participated in the Civil Rights Movement.

“While the Civil Rights movement had many visible leaders, including Thurgood Marshall, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and Rosa Parks, there were many others whose impact and experience were just as important to the cause but who are not as well known,” the bill reads in part.

Because many who participated in the Civil Rights Movement have grown old, sponsors of the bill said they felt it was important to capture those voices before they are forever lost.

In addition to oral and video testimonials, the government also will collect letters, diaries, photographs, programs, posters, flyers, etc. The effort will focus on the years 1954 through 1968.

Congress approved $500,000 for the project for fiscal year 2010 and “such sums as may be necessary for each of the fiscal years 2011 through 2014.”

“Honoring our history, allows us to remember what should be and should not be repeated,” Rep. William Clyburn of South Carolina, who was present at the signing, said in a statement. “The Civil Rights History Project will preserve the valued memories and experiences of those who fought for equality for current and future generations. The oral and video histories will be available to the public and will be an important resource for students of every age.”

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