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As we mark the celebration of Black History Month and honor the many contributions that African Americans have made to our country over the years, it is important to recognize how far we have come, while also taking stock of the work we must still do to ensure justice for all. 150 years since the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation, and 50 years since so many courageous civil rights leaders organized the historic March on Washington, we have expanded access to the ballot box, secured quality, affordable health care for millions of Americans across the country; and championed equality at all levels. However, there are still many more steps we must take on the path toward progress.
Congressman Steve Cohen (D-Memphis) issued a statement on Feb. 1 to commemorate Black History Month, which is observed every February.
“Every February, Americans of all races come together to celebrate Black History Month. African-American history is filled with extraordinary people who have left an indelible mark on our nation and the world. This month we pay special attention to the cultural, political, social and scientific contributions made by African-Americans that have enriched our nation. In Memphis, we celebrate heroines like Ida B. Wells, Maxine Smith and Minerva Johnican, and heroes like Russell Sugarmon and Rev. Benjamin Hooks. We also have honored other influential African-Americans with local ties by naming our federal building after Judge Odell Horton and the main post office after Kenneth Whalum.
“All Americans have special cause this February to be proud of our diversity and the progress that we’ve made as a country. Though the fight for equality is not over, America put a down payment on Dr. Martin Luther King’s dream that one day people will be judged not by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. This month, let us 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.”
Throughout Black History Month, we must recommit ourselves to fighting partisan attacks to disenfranchise voters, striving to reduce income and health disparities that impact the African American community, continuing to invest in education, and building a 21st century economy so that everyone — regardless of race or class — has a genuine chance to achieve the American dream.
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