Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Ramona Douglass Passes Away

I'm pretty sure I never met Ramona Douglass in person, but her name was always common currency among the mixed race advocates I have known. Yesterday, I learned of her death, which actually seems to have occurred weeks ago. I read about it on Racialicious, who found out through MAVIN:

"MAVIN Foundation board and staff extend our condolences to the family and friends of Ramona E. Douglass who passed away last week. Ms. Douglass was a civil rights activist for nearly three decades. She was one of the most prominent figures in the multiracial movement in America since its inception. As a U.S. Department of Commerce federal appointee to the 2000 Census Advisory Committee in Washington, D.C., beginning in 1995, she consistently represented multiracial community interests before Congress, the national media, and the Executive Office of the President.

Ms. Douglass was a co-founder of the Association of MultiEthnic Americans (AMEA) and member of the board of directions since its founding in 1988, serving in the capacities of vice president (1988-1994), president (1994-1999), director of media and public relations (2000-2005), and member of the Advisory Council until her death.

I'm not entirely certain about this, but it looks like she may have passed at the end of May--coincidently, around the tenth anniversary of this testimony before congress regarding the 2000 census, which we excerpt here as a tribute to her:

From the May 22, 1997 Hearing on Multiracial Identification Before the Subcommittee on Government Management, Information and Technology of the House Committee on Government Reform and Oversight

Statement of Ramona E. Douglass
President of the Association of MultiEthnic Americans
Member of the Federal 2000 Census Advisory Committee

"My name is Ramona E. Douglass and I am proud to call myself a multiracial American. I consider it an honor and a privilege to stand before this subcommittee and be able to tell its members what being multiracial/multiethnic means to me and the more than 2.5 millions others like me in the U.S. today. We are no longer willing to remain proverbial square pegs shoved into the consistently round holes of America's racial classification system...

...The lives of our interracial families and multiracial children are in your hands. We as a community are asking you to give us the same consideration and respect you would demand for your own families' health and well-being. Please count us, track us, begin the process of including us in the American framework that has monitored the evolution and growth of other racial/ethnic populations throughout our history. We are the changing face of America and a reflection of its highest ideals when it comes to human interaction, acceptance and love. Asking us to endure another decade or another census unacknowledged, discounted or ignored isn't an option any of us can afford to live with any longer. If one member of our society is without freedom then none of us are truly free."

The full text of this testimony is available to read from The Multiracial Activist.

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