Policy Update Oct 29, 2019

Position on H.R. 139, H.R. 486, H.R. 3250, H.R. 3824 & H.R. 4139

NPCA submitted the following positions to the House Natural Resources Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests, and Public Lands ahead of a hearing scheduled for October 29, 2019.

H.R. 139: Springfield Race Riot National Historic Monument Act - The proposed Springfield Race Riot National Historic Monument tells the story of a 1908 riot in Springfield, Illinois that pitted whites against blacks in vigilante justice. The riot led to the lynching of two prominent members of the black community and one year later, this event led to creation of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. These stories are unique and a significant part of our heritage and deserve recognition. The National Park Service recently completed a Reconnaissance Survey of the site and recommended further study in order to determine the feasibility and suitability of managing this site that no longer includes historic structures. NPCA supports the significant stories told but remains neutral on establishing a separate unit of the park system until the Park Service completes their analysis regarding their direct management at this site.

H.R. 486: Chicano Park Preservation Act - NPCA supports H.R.486 to empower the National Park Service to complete a special resource study exploring Chicano Park significance to our nation’s cultural heritage. Chicano Park preserves the country’s largest collection of outdoor murals, as well as sculptures, earthworks and architectural pieces dedicated to the heritage of the Mexican American and Chicano/a community. Already a San Diego Cultural Resource and California Historic Resource, the park was designated a National Historic Landmark because its history maintains and embodies “high artistic value” and represents the distinct rise of Chicano Art onto the American art scene at the height of the Chicano Civil Rights movement. Its history and artistic value depict an important part of America’s rich, diverse, and complex history, which will certainly be considered as part of the resource study.

H.R. 3250: Julius Rosenwald and the Rosenwald Schools Act of 2019 - NPCA supports this legislation to require the Secretary of the Interior to conduct a special resource study of the sites associated with the life and legacy of the noted American philanthropist and business executive Julius Rosenwald, with a special focus on the Rosenwald Schools. Julius Rosenwald, son of Jewish, German immigrants, entered the retail clothing trade and eventually became part-owner and president of Sears, Roebuck & Company, which he transformed into a retailing powerhouse in the early 20th century. Rosenwald put his money to philanthropic use by financially contributing to the cause of African American education, ultimately helping to construct more than 5,300 Rosenwald Schools over a 20-year period in 15 southern States. During the 1920’s through the 1940’s, one third of all African American children in the South were educated in Rosenwald schools. Rosenwald’s remarkable contributions to education played a significant role in narrowing the gap between the educational levels of Black and White students in the South, making him more than deserving of recognition through the establishment of National Historical Sites commemorating his outstanding work.

H.R. 3824: Cahokia Mounds Mississippian Culture National Historical Park Act - The proposed Cahokia Mounds Mississippian Culture National Historical Park provides an opportunity for the National Park Service to preserve and interpret the historical, cultural and natural resources associated with the life of the Mississippian Culture in three counties of Illinois and one of Missouri. This site is an established Illinois State Historic Site as well as a World Heritage Site. Currently managed by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, this site is the state’s most-visited historic site. NPCA supports a National Park Service partnership presence at this site, however we encourage the Park Service to first carefully consider which lands they acquire to constitute a manageable unit as the legislation requires. NPCA supports a site that is co-managed by the Park Service and Illinois Department of Natural Resources, a partnership that has worked well at Chicago’s Pullman National Monument and State Historic Site.

H.R. 4139: To provide for the boundary of the Palo Alto Battlefield National Historic Park to be adjusted, to authorize the donation of land to the United States for addition to that historic park, and for other purposes – NPCA supports the boundary adjustment in H.R. 4139 recognizing that the Palo Alto Battlefield is the only National Park Service site to interpret the U.S.-Mexican War, where visitors experience the land almost exactly as it stood during the two-year conflict. The inclusion of the Fort Brown resource to the current site will enable the Park Service to more fully interpret the story of Palo Alto, engaging more of the public in the natural, cultural and historical significance of the site.