This Black History Month is especially significant as we recognize three historic events: the Inauguration of Barack Obama; the centennial celebration of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP); and, the bicentennial of Abraham Lincoln's birth. Each of these milestones illustrates the vibrancy of our nation, and our commitment to progress and equality for all.
In his inspirational Inaugural Address, President Obama reminded us that while 'we are in the midst of crisis,' we are united in the common purpose of achieving a greater measure of peace and prosperity for all of our people, and for all citizens of the world.
As we celebrate the centennial of the NAACP, we pay tribute to the men and women who risked all to achieve equality and justice for all, and resolve to be equal to their example as we face the civil rights challenges of the next 100 years.
In celebrating the 200th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln's birth, we recall his signing of the Emancipation Proclamation, which launched a 'new birth of freedom' and set America on a course to ending the legal and social practices of discrimination against African Americans.
Ending discrimination is a top priority for the 111th Congress. One of the first bills passed by the House, and the first major legislation signed into law by President Obama last week, was the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. This bill, which ensures that men and women are paid fairly for the work they do, will have a direct impact on America's women, as well as every boy and girl growing up in our country.
During this Black History Month, we recommit ourselves to the proposition that all are created equal, all deserve respect, and all have a fair chance to achieve their full measure of economic opportunity and prosperity.
Majority Leader Steny Hoyer:
Throughout the month of February, Americans come together to celebrate Black History Month. In this historic year, as we swore-in President Barack Obama to serve as our nation's 44th President, we all have reason to be proud of the rich diversity of our nation.
African-American history is filled with remarkable individuals who have left an unforgettable mark on our nation. This month, and throughout the entire year, it is important to take notice of the cultural, political, social and scientific contributions made by African-Americans that have enriched our nation.
Every day, we experience the lasting legacy of the civil rights movement and the impact of its leaders on our lives. The accomplishments of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and countless others who worked beside him have forever changed this nation's history for the better. As Americans, diversity is one of our greatest strengths, and we must recommit ourselves all year long to ensuring that equality is a reality for all of our citizens.
Majority Whip James E. Clyburn:
As we celebrate this year's Black History Month and the historic inauguration of our 44th President, let us honor the shoulders Barack Obama stands upon–the countless African-Americans whose sacrifices and contributions made the American dream possible. The dream of a young boy with a mother from Kansas and a Father from Kenya, or the dream of a beautician's son growing up in the segregated south, both aspiring to make their mark on the world, despite the cynics saying it couldn't be done. It is because of their many sacrifices that President Obama's story, or my story, is even possible.
It is with great humility that we reflect on the courageous actions of people like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Rosa Parks, or Harry and Eliza Briggs from Clarendon County, South Carolina, the plaintiffs in the first of five cases that were combined to become the famous Supreme Court case, Brown v. Board of Education. Its these people, as well as millions of unknown individuals, whose willingness to stand strong in the face of adversity has provided countless freedoms and opportunities to all Americans, regardless of circumstance.
Despite all of our advancements, however, we are still faced with crumbling schools, inaccessible healthcare, and employment inequities. Today, as we turn our attention toward a struggling economy, it is important that we come together as a nation to continue the fight for equal rights for Americans of all backgrounds and persuations.