Hours before the attacks at the U.S. Capitol over Electoral College votes Wednesday, Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) took 20 minutes out of his schedule to celebrate unanimous Senate passage of his African American Burial Grounds Study Act with the Rev. Dr. Orlando Yates, senior pastor of Cincinnati’s Union Baptist Church.

If signed into law, the Act would set up a voluntary, nationwide network of African American burial grounds and provide federal assistance through the National Park Service to ensure the burial sites are preserved and maintained for future generations. Brown introduced the legislation after touring the historic Union Baptist Cemetery in Dec. 2019.

Yates praised God and the Senate for their support.

“Our thousands of members are very excited for the restoration, unity and honor this Bill represents,” Yates said.

“This bill allows the broken and missing pieces of African American history to be pieced together through the location of sacred burial grounds, documentation of countless notable Americans laid to rest, known and unknown,” he said.

“We’re excited that this bill will bring about a greater and needed sense of unity in America even today,” he said.

“We are excited and happy for its passing with unanimous consent for the cause of honor,” he said. “With horrific experiences of African Americans from slavery, emancipation, Jim Crow laws and struggles even today, this bill brings much-needed hope for life and progress. It brings a much brighter future in restoring the honor of the African American community and our beloved country that embraces the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence that God established through our founding fathers.”

The Union Baptist Cemetery was established in 1846 and “The heroes and citizens buried there, every one of them, contributed to building our great nation,” Yates said. “It’s important for young people to know and understand their history. Without that, they have no kind of compass needed to go forward with their lives. If they make a difference, they will add to the overall betterment of America, humankind and the entire world.”

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