Black History Month has a special meaning this year, commemorating two landmarks of American history: the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation and the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights March on Washington, according to Congresswoman Barbara Lee.
“The Emancipation Proclamation in 1863 reiterated the principles of our founding fathers that ‘all men are created equal’ and serves as a critical landmark in our nation’s progress towards equality. In 1963, Martin Luther King, Jr. inspired a nation to rise up against discrimination, injustice, poverty and war as he delivered his “I have a dream” speech to a crowd of freedom fighters that marched on the Lincoln Memorial,” said Lee.
Black History Month has grown from a week established by Dr. Carter Woodson in 1926, to a month-long celebration that reflects on the many contributions African Americans have made in every facet of American life.
“The many victories won by the civil rights movement and the progress our society has made in facing issues of ongoing racial inequality have afforded me the humbling privilege to serve as the 100th African American elected to the U.S. House of Representatives and paved the way for the historic re-election of President Barack Obama,” Lee said.
However, Lee emphasized that the nation still must address the “many structural inequalities that have left far too many African Americans behind. Simply put, race is a factor in the growing economic inequalities we have in this country.”
Black History Month is a time, she said, to rededicate to the fight to “end poverty, violence, healthcare disparities, voter suppression efforts and the achievement gap in our education system.”