Illinois General Assembly - Full Text of HR0453
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Full Text of HR0453  103rd General Assembly



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2    AMENDMENT NO. ___. Amend House Resolution 453 by deleting
3everything after the heading and inserting the following:
4    "WHEREAS, Slavery provided much of the revenue for the
5young State of Illinois and severed ties between enslaved
6people and their ancestors, resulting in the erasure of family
7histories for both enslaved people and their descendants; and
8    WHEREAS, The U.S. has a social responsibility and duty
9towards African American descendants of enslaved individuals
10to provide the public service of assisting Black citizens in
11reconnecting with their ancestral history; the State of
12Illinois has an equal responsibility to Black Illinoisans; and
13    WHEREAS, Although Illinois is a northern state, slavery
14was prevalent within its boundaries before the Northwest
15Ordinance of 1787, and enslaved individuals still worked the



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1salt springs of the Illinois Salines until 1825; slavery in
2the Illinois Salines was permitted because it provided as much
3as a third of the yearly revenue for the young State;
4indentured servitude at the salt springs continued until 1870;
5this history of slavery in Illinois deepens the responsibility
6of the State to assist African American citizens in recovering
7their lost history; and
8    WHEREAS, Since the first direct-to-consumer genetic
9ancestry test was pioneered in 2000, technological
10capabilities have vastly improved, enabling refined genetic
11genealogy that can trace ancestral connections over the past
12500 years; given this advancement in technology, the U.S.,
13honoring its moral obligation to descendants of enslaved
14Africans, is now exceptionally positioned to facilitate this
15reconnection through a genealogy-based pilot program; and
16    WHEREAS, In addition to restoring a sense of personal
17belonging and ethnic identity, both being critical for
18psychological well-being, genetic genealogical evidence
19provides descendants of enslaved African Americans with robust
20genetic evidentiary support of their African family origins;
21several African countries, including Ghana, Sierra Leone,
22Gabon, and Eritrea have begun offering citizenship to
23individuals who can trace their ancestry back to their
24respective country, including ancestry traced through genetic



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1genealogy; improvements in genetic genealogical technology
2provide new found support for the desire expressed by
3president Abraham Lincoln in the Emancipation Proclamation to
4establish a voluntary repatriation program for African
5descendants to return to their African ancestral homelands;
7    WHEREAS, Nearly all Black Americans can successfully trace
8their genetic ancestry to one or more African countries;
9today, there are currently 42 million African American
10descendants of those enslaved in the U.S.; the genetic
11analyses completed in the Genetic Consequences of the
12Transatlantic Slave Trade in the Americas study by Steven
13Micheletti and colleagues found that African Americans tend to
14have ancestry from four main regions in Atlantic Africa,
15including Nigeria, Senegambia (Gambia, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau,
16and Senegal), Coastal West Africa (Sierra Leone, Ghana, Côte
17d'Ivoire, and Liberia), and the Congo region, which includes
18Angola and the Democratic Republic of the Congo; approximately
1971% of African American 23andMe research participants had
20detectable segments of DNA that are identical with current
21ethnolinguistic groups from all four Atlantic African regions
22stemming from a common ancestor; as documented by Jazlyn
23Mooney and her colleagues in their study On the Number of
24Genealogical Ancestors Tracing to the Source Groups of an
25Admixed Population, there is a high probability, over 97.5%,



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1that an average African American can trace their ancestry back
2to at least one African ancestor from each of eight to 12
3generations ago culminating in an approximate total of 269
4African ancestors within this timeframe; and
5    WHEREAS, Approximately 15% of Black adults in the U.S.
6have taken consumer genetic genealogy tests; African Americans
7should not be economically burdened to obtain information
8regarding their ancestral history, which was forcibly taken
9from them through practices of slavery that economically
10benefited the growing United States; and
11    WHEREAS, Reparations have been granted towards other
12groups residing in the U.S., yet African Americans have never
13been compensated to redress the racial harms enacted upon
14their person during times of slavery; while white slave owners
15were compensated for the emancipation of their slaves,
16enslaved individuals only had access to social support via the
17Freedmen's Bureau Act of 1865 and 1866, which provided basic
18needs including food, clothing, and shelter, due to the
19displacement of southerners after the Civil War; while the
20Evacuation Claims Act of 1948 and the Civil Liberties Act of
211988 paid reparations to Japanese Americans, up to $20,000 per
22survivor, and the Indian Claims Commission allocates
23approximately $1,000 per person, enslaved persons of African
24descent and their descendants have never received monetary



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1compensation for the atrocities committed against them prior
2to the abolition of slavery; this is despite there having been
3over 10 million African Americans human trafficked from their
4families and homeland only to be forced to build the
5infrastructure of America and generate wealth for early white
6Americans; in 1989, H.R. 40 was introduced to establish a
7commission to investigate the impacts of enslavement and to
8evaluate proposals for reparation; though this resolution has
9been introduced for decades, it has not been passed; and
10    WHEREAS, It is technologically straightforward and a moral
11imperative to rectify the erasure of family histories
12resulting from slavery; it is now possible to establish a
13family roots genealogy pilot program that can equip
14descendants of enslaved African Americans with robust genetic
15evidentiary support of their African family origins; Dr.
16LaKisha David, an assistant professor at the University of
17Illinois (U of I) Urbana-Champaign in the Department of
18Anthropology, is a distinguished expert on reuniting African
19Americans with long lost kin in Africa through autosomal DNA
20genetic testing; she is a former postdoctoral fellow of
21Ethical, Legal, and Social Implications of Genetics and
22Genomics at the University of Pennsylvania's Perelman School
23of Medicine; she will be the principal investigator in
24establishing this genealogy-based family roots program; U of
25I's Department of Anthropology has expressed their commitment



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1to these efforts and interest in ways they can continue to
2serve both reparative and decolonizing efforts of the State
3more generally; and
4    WHEREAS, The procedure will begin with the collection of
5saliva samples that will be processed at The Illinois Roy J.
6Carver Biotechnology Center, situated in Urbana, pending
7appropriation funding; once the processing is completed, the
8saliva samples will be securely destroyed; the resulting data
9will then be transferred to a secure storage and computing
10environment that adheres to the Health Insurance Portability
11and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) regulations; the sample
12will be accompanied by a unique identifying code rather than
13participants' personal information; nongenetic data for this
14project will be stored in facilities that meet requirements
15established by HIPAA; participants logging in will receive
16results that are hosted on a HIPAA-compliant platform; for the
17protection of all participants, DNA samples collected may not
18be subjected for subpoenas or accessed for any other purposes;
20    WHEREAS, Researchers cannot release or use information,
21documents, or samples that may identify participants in any
22action or suit unless the participant consents; researchers
23also cannot provide data as evidence unless participants have
24agreed; this protection includes federal, state, local, civil,



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1criminal, administrative, legislative, or other proceedings;
2this does not stop participants from willingly releasing
3information about their involvement in this research and does
4not prevent participants from having access to their own
5information; and
6    WHEREAS, The U of I at Urbana-Champaign, established as a
7land-grant institution through the Morrill Act of 1862, was
8entrusted with a mission to democratize higher education and
9serve the public interest across Illinois and beyond; despite
10this intent, U of I's historical record is marked by periods of
11exclusion and insufficient representation of African Americans
12that cast a shadow over its commitment to true inclusivity;
13these specialized centers, backed by the State of Illinois,
14hold the potential to make amends and realign with the
15original vision of the land-grant mission; the centers carry a
16paramount duty to redress past neglect, actively engage with
17the African American community, and to emphasize the profound
18need to reconnect individuals to their ancestral roots;
19through this initiative, the centers have an opportunity, and
20indeed an obligation, to play a transformative role in
21facilitating understanding, reconnection, and healing, and, in
22doing so, work towards rectifying the U of I's historical
23shortcomings in relation to a community with a deeply
24impactful, yet often sidelined, history; therefore, be it



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3we urge support for the Family Roots Genealogy Pilot Program
4as it provides African American descendants of enslaved
5individuals the opportunity to trace their roots back to their
6ancestral homelands, to reconnect with their ancestral
7heritage, and to promote their well-being; and be it further
8    RESOLVED, That a copy of this resolution be presented to
9the Family Roots Genealogy Pilot Program as a symbol of our
10esteem and respect."