Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas)
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Lawmaker Sheila Jackson Lee Is Raising The Profile Of Jazz Music
Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas) held a press conference on Dec. 13 to announce that she will be chairing a new Congressional Jazz Caucus. To help accomplish this, on Dec. 12 Jackson Lee introduced H.R. 4626, "to preserve knowledge and promote education about jazz in the United States and abroad."
"I think there is a misunderstanding and a lack of appreciation of jazz," said Jackson Lee. "This story needs to be told. Jazz needs to be held up as individuals who create music, write music, play music."
The background to her decision to step up as Jazz music's champion is tied to the resignation of Rep. John Conyers Jr. (D-Mich.), according to Billboard. While some debate over his replacement as Ranking Member on the House Judiciary Committee, Jackson Lee is stepping up to help continue his pro-Jazz legacy. Conyers had established the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation's Annual Jazz Concert and led successful passage of multiple concurrent Congressional resolutions recognizing jazz as a "rare and valuable national treasure." While bipartisan support for jazz continues, in principle, the $2 million per year in financial support drafted into H.R. 4626 might be trickier, even though it seems a small amount to build a national preservation network for a "treasure."
The bill's five components would include videotaping interviews, preserving and contextualizing historic artifacts, a continued commitment to recognizing April as Jazz Appreciation Month, establishing a network of museums and community organizations to display collections and loan artifacts, and to "engage in capacity building with community-based and regional organizations with the potential to establish jazz archival collections."
Jazz has a crucial role in the cultural history of America. Jackson Lee is enlisting members of her growing caucus as well as popular support for her bill H.R. 4626 to show respect where it is both needed and deserved.