WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Congressman G. K. Butterfield (NC-01) introduced H.R. 3034, a bill to direct the U.S. Postmaster General to issue a commemorative postage stamp in honor of George Henry White, the last African American to serve in Congress until 1929.
“George Henry White was a persistent and thoughtful advocate for his constituents and all African Americans,” said Congressman Butterfield. “He relentlessly stirred the conscience of both his Congressional colleagues and all Americans to embrace racial justice and equality for all people. His historic public service at the state and federal levels has made him an indelible and unique part of our nation’s history, which is why he should be honored in this way.”
A native of New Bern, North Carolina, George Henry White served in both the North Carolina House of Representatives and Senate. In 1896, the people of the Second Congressional District of North Carolina elected Mr. White to serve in the U.S. House of Representatives.
While serving in the House, Congressman White was an outspoken advocate for civil rights and economic and social justice for African Americans. Notably, he was the first Member of Congress to introduce legislation making lynching a federal crime. He would only serve two terms in the House. His departure from Congress resulted from disenfranchisement laws passed in 1900.
Addressing his colleagues on the Floor of the House on the eve of his departure from Congress, White said, “…this is perhaps the Negroes’ temporary farewell to the American Congress, but let me say, Phoenix-like he will rise up some day and come again. These parting words are in behalf of an outraged, heart-broken, bruised and bleeding, but God-fearing people; faithful, industrious, loyal, rising people – full of potential force.”
Congressman Butterfield represents the First Congressional District which is comprised of much of the same area Congressman White represented nearly 120 years ago.