“We absolutely accomplished what we set out to,” said Congresswoman Karen Bass of her recent trip to Ghana with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and thirteen members of the Congressional Black Caucus.
“One, was to go back to the origins of slavery but it was also to renew our ties with the nation of Ghana.”
Dubbing it “The Year of Return,” the delegation took the trip at the end of last month where they addressed the Ghanian Parliament to discuss regional security and the possible expansion of the African Growth and Opportunity Act.
“Ghana is already taking advantage of the African Growth and Opportunity Act, which is our trade agreement with the continent of Africa,” Bass explained.
“Right now it is primarily in the area of oil. But we talked about diversifying it. As a matter of fact, one of the site visits we did in Ghana was to a clothing factory called ‘Do the Right Thing.’ They export clothing to the United States and they take advantage of the AGOA. They are hoping that there will be more US businesses interested in doing business with Ghana so we talked about what opportunities there might be…”
One of those opportunities, said Bass, would be for the western African country to be involved in the processing of raw materials that they already export.
“[For example],” said Bass, “The Ghanians already export coco but they would like to be involved in processing and selling the products made from that coco.”
Other members of the delegation included House Majority Whip James Clyburn, and representatives Barbara Lee and John Lewis.
“I consider this to be a fitting and proper way to commemorate the 400th year since the enslaved people were forced to leave their homeland and sent in bondage to the New World,” Clyburn told the press before the journey. “I seek to pay homage to the sacrifices of our African ancestors and honor the contributions they made to building the United States of America.”
“This was a profoundly significant trip for the Congressional Black Caucus,” said Bass, who is also the Black Caucus chair.
“This year marks 400 years since the first African arrived on the shores of America and we know that after the treacherous journey they began a period of 250 years of enslavement. To travel to Ghana with Members of the Congressional Black Caucus led by the Speaker of the House, the most powerful woman in America, says a great deal about the historical ties between our countries and reaffirms our commitment to Ghana and to the continent of Africa.”
“It was an honor to return to Ghana with the Congressional Black Caucus as we mark ‘The Year of Return’ and the 400th anniversary of the arrival of the first enslaved Africans in Jamestown Virginia,” said Pelosi.
“The sites we’ve seen in Ghana are an inextricable part of America’s heritage and will forever be seared in our hearts and minds. Our discussions and engagements with Ghanaian government officials and civil society leaders were key to advancing our shared interests and cooperative efforts to alleviate poverty, eradicate disease, address the urgency of the climate crisis and ensure economic prosperity and security for future generations. We look forward to building on the progress we have made together and strengthening our friendship to the benefit of both our nations.”
Added Bass, “On this delegation, members of the Congressional Black Caucus [returned] to the African continent as members of the United States Congress. We have come so far but we still have so far to go …”