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



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2    WHEREAS, Slavery provided much of the revenue for the
3young State of Illinois and severed ties between enslaved
4people and their ancestors, resulting in the erasure of family
5histories for both enslaved people and their descendants; and
6    WHEREAS, The U.S. has a social responsibility and duty
7towards African American descendants of enslaved individuals
8to provide the public service of assisting Black citizens in
9reconnecting with their ancestral history; the State of
10Illinois has an equal responsibility to Black Illinoisans; and
11    WHEREAS, Although Illinois is a northern state, slavery
12was prevalent within its boundaries before the Northwest
13Ordinance of 1787, and enslaved individuals still worked the
14salt springs of the Illinois Salines until 1825; slavery in
15the Illinois Salines was permitted because it provided as much
16as a third of the yearly revenue for the young State;
17indentured servitude at the salt springs continued until 1870;
18this history of slavery in Illinois deepens the responsibility
19of the State to assist African American citizens in recovering
20their lost history; and
21    WHEREAS, Since the first direct-to-consumer genetic
22ancestry test was pioneered in 2000, technological



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1capabilities have vastly improved, enabling refined genetic
2genealogy that can trace ancestral connections over the past
3500 years; given this advancement in technology, the U.S.,
4honoring its moral obligation to descendants of enslaved
5Africans, is now exceptionally positioned to facilitate this
6reconnection through a genealogy-based pilot program; and
7    WHEREAS, In addition to restoring a sense of personal
8belonging and ethnic identity, both being critical for
9psychological well-being, genetic genealogical evidence
10provides descendants of enslaved African Americans with robust
11genetic evidentiary support of their African family origins;
12several African countries, including Ghana, Sierra Leone,
13Gabon, and Eritrea have begun offering citizenship to
14individuals who can trace their ancestry back to their
15respective country, including ancestry traced through genetic
16genealogy; improvements in genetic genealogical technology
17provide new found support for the desire expressed by
18president Abraham Lincoln in the Emancipation Proclamation to
19establish a voluntary repatriation program for African
20descendants to return to their African ancestral homelands;
22    WHEREAS, Nearly all Black Americans can successfully trace
23their genetic ancestry to one or more African countries;
24today, there are currently 42 million African American



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1descendants of those enslaved in the U.S.; the genetic
2analyses completed in the Genetic Consequences of the
3Transatlantic Slave Trade in the Americas study by Steven
4Micheletti and colleagues found that African Americans tend to
5have ancestry from four main regions in Atlantic Africa,
6including Nigeria, Senegambia (Gambia, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau,
7and Senegal), Coastal West Africa (Sierra Leone, Ghana, Côte
8d'Ivoire, and Liberia), and the Congo region, which includes
9Angola and the Democratic Republic of the Congo; approximately
1071% of African American 23andMe research participants had
11detectable segments of DNA that are identical with current
12ethnolinguistic groups from all four Atlantic African regions
13stemming from a common ancestor; as documented by Jazlyn
14Mooney and her colleagues in their study On the Number of
15Genealogical Ancestors Tracing to the Source Groups of an
16Admixed Population, there is a high probability, over 97.5%,
17that an average African American can trace their ancestry back
18to at least one African ancestor from each of eight to 12
19generations ago culminating in an approximate total of 269
20African ancestors within this timeframe; and
21    WHEREAS, Approximately 15% of Black adults in the U.S.
22have taken consumer genetic genealogy tests; African Americans
23should not be economically burdened to obtain information
24regarding their ancestral history, which was forcibly taken
25from them through practices of slavery that economically



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1benefited the growing United States; and
2    WHEREAS, Reparations have been granted towards other
3groups residing in the U.S., yet African Americans have never
4been compensated to redress the racial harms enacted upon
5their person during times of slavery; while white slave owners
6were compensated for the emancipation of their slaves,
7enslaved individuals only had access to social support via the
8Freedmen's Bureau Act of 1865 and 1866, which provided basic
9needs including food, clothing, and shelter, due to the
10displacement of southerners after the Civil War; while the
11Evacuation Claims Act of 1948 and the Civil Liberties Act of
121988 paid reparations to Japanese Americans, up to $20,000 per
13survivor, and the Indian Claims Commission allocates
14approximately $1,000 per person, enslaved persons of African
15descent and their descendants have never received monetary
16compensation for the atrocities committed against them prior
17to the abolition of slavery; this is despite there having been
18over 10 million African Americans human trafficked from their
19families and homeland only to be forced to build the
20infrastructure of America and generate wealth for early white
21Americans; in 1989, H.R. 40 was introduced to establish a
22commission to investigate the impacts of enslavement and to
23evaluate proposals for reparation; though this resolution has
24been introduced for decades, it has not been passed; and



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1    WHEREAS, It is technologically straightforward and a moral
2imperative to rectify the erasure of family histories
3resulting from slavery; it is now possible to establish a
4family roots genealogy pilot program that can equip
5descendants of enslaved African Americans with robust genetic
6evidentiary support of their African family origins; Dr.
7LaKisha David, an assistant professor at the University of
8Illinois (U of I) Urbana-Champaign in the Department of
9Anthropology, is a distinguished expert on reuniting African
10Americans with long lost kin in Africa through autosomal DNA
11genetic testing; she is a former postdoctoral fellow of
12Ethical, Legal, and Social Implications of Genetics and
13Genomics at the University of Pennsylvania's Perelman School
14of Medicine; she will be the principal investigator in
15establishing this genealogy-based family roots program; U of
16I's Department of Anthropology has expressed their commitment
17to these efforts and interest in ways they can continue to
18serve both reparative and decolonizing efforts of the State
19more generally; and
20    WHEREAS, The procedure will begin with the collection of
21saliva samples that will be processed at The Illinois Roy J.
22Carver Biotechnology Center, situated in Urbana, pending
23appropriation funding; once the processing is completed, the
24saliva samples will be securely destroyed; the resulting data
25will then be transferred to a secure storage and computing



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1environment that adheres to the Health Insurance Portability
2and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) regulations; the sample
3will be accompanied by a unique identifying code rather than
4participants' personal information; nongenetic data for this
5project will be stored in facilities that meet requirements
6established by HIPAA; participants logging in will receive
7results that are hosted on a HIPAA-compliant platform; for the
8protection of all participants, DNA samples collected may not
9be subjected for subpoenas or accessed for any other purposes;
11    WHEREAS, Researchers cannot release or use information,
12documents, or samples that may identify participants in any
13action or suit unless the participant consents; researchers
14also cannot provide data as evidence unless participants have
15agreed; this protection includes federal, state, local, civil,
16criminal, administrative, legislative, or other proceedings;
17this does not stop participants from willingly releasing
18information about their involvement in this research and does
19not prevent participants from having access to their own
20information; and
21    WHEREAS, The U of I at Urbana-Champaign, established as a
22land-grant institution through the Morrill Act of 1862, was
23entrusted with a mission to democratize higher education and
24serve the public interest across Illinois and beyond; despite



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1this intent, U of I's historical record is marked by periods of
2exclusion and insufficient representation of African Americans
3that cast a shadow over its commitment to true inclusivity;
4these specialized centers, backed by the State of Illinois,
5hold the potential to make amends and realign with the
6original vision of the land-grant mission; the centers carry a
7paramount duty to redress past neglect, actively engage with
8the African American community, and to emphasize the profound
9need to reconnect individuals to their ancestral roots;
10through this initiative, the centers have an opportunity, and
11indeed an obligation, to play a transformative role in
12facilitating understanding, reconnection, and healing, and, in
13doing so, work towards rectifying the U of I's historical
14shortcomings in relation to a community with a deeply
15impactful, yet often sidelined, history; therefore, be it
18we urge support for the Family Roots Genealogy Pilot Program
19as it provides African American descendants of enslaved
20individuals the opportunity to trace their roots back to their
21ancestral homelands, to reconnect with their ancestral
22heritage, and to promote their well-being; and be it further
23    RESOLVED, That a copy of this resolution be presented to
24the Family Roots Genealogy Pilot Program as a symbol of our



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1esteem and respect.