Introduced Version House Resolution 11 History

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House Resolution 11

(By Mr. Speaker, Mr. Thompson, and Delegates Ashley, Beach, Boggs, Brown, Caputo, Doyle, Ferro, Fleischauer, Frazier, Guthrie, Hall, Hatfield, Kominar, Louisos, Mahan, Marshall, Martin, Michael, Moore, Morgan, Pethtel, Phillips, Skaff, Spencer, Staggers, Stephens, Varner, Walker, Wells, White and Wooton)

{Introduced February 20, 2009.]

Designating February 20, 2009, as "Civil Rights Pioneer J. R. Clifford Day".

Whereas, West Virginia Civil Rights Pioneer John Robert "J.R." Clifford was born in 1848 on a farm near Moorefield, West Virginia, and at the age of 16 enlisted in the 13th Regiment of the Union Army, fought in the civil war and is buried in Arlington Cemetery; and
Whereas, J. R. Clifford taught school in Wheeling, Harpers Ferry, and Martinsburg; and
Whereas, In 1882, Clifford founded the longest running national African American newspaper at that time, the Pioneer Press, and became active in state and national African American politics; and
Whereas, Clifford "read law" in a local attorney's office in Martinsburg and in 1887 was admitted to practice before the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals, becoming West Virginia's first African American lawyer; and
Whereas, In 1892, Clifford represented Carrie Williams, an African American schoolteacher, in a landmark West Virginia civil rights case from Coketon in the Blackwater Canyon region of Tucker County, in Williams v. Board of Education; and
Whereas, The Williams case established the right of the children of African American workers in Tucker County coal mines and coke ovens, and all African American schoolchildren in West Virginia, to school terms of equal length as those enjoyed by white children and also established the right of African American schoolteachers in West Virginia to equal pay. A right that over the decades led to a remarkable level of excellence in West Virginia's public segregated colleges for African Americans prior to 1954; and
Whereas, The Williams case was a first in American jurisprudence and played an important role in establishing West Virginia as a State where African Americans could exercise rights and opportunities in education, voting and jury service that translated into political and economic power; and
Whereas, The exercise of these rights and this kind of power by African Americans after the Civil War, in West Virginia and elsewhere, led to the emergence of a new level of African American educational, civic, religious, business, academic and political leadership that became the crucible of the civil rights movement of the 20th Century, which crystallized its vision at the Niagara Movement meeting at Harpers Ferry, West Virginia in August of 1906; and
Whereas, The United States Postal Service recognized J. R. Clifford as one of this Nation's most important Civil Rights Pioneers on its February 2009 Commemorative Stamp set; therefore, be it
Resolved by the House of Delegates:
That the House of Delegates hereby designates February 20, 2009, as "Civil Rights Pioneer J. R. Clifford Day" and encourages all citizens to join us in this observance; and, be it
Further Resolved, That the Clerk of the House of Delegates forward a certified copy of this resolution to the J. R. Clifford Project.
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