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Black History Month: A Time for Reflection and Continued Progress

February 26, 2014
Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial billboard in Atlanta

Every February, our great nation gives pause to honor the impact and contributions of Black Americans in the United States. The origin of African American history is one rooted in struggle and heartache yet defined by individuals who continually overcame seemingly insurmountable challenges.

Looking back to days of slavery to segregation and Jim Crow, Black Americans embodied hope and conviction; hope that better days were ahead and a convicted belief in their ability to demand change.  From Harriet Tubman and Booker T. Washington to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Congressman John Lewis, people of color forever altered the American way life by fighting for equality and constitutional rights.

Without these fine examples of sacrifice and achievement, along with numerous others that will never get the recognition they deserve, we would not have the freedoms and rights that we all enjoy today.  We must remember their story and harness the inspiration in their struggle.  We must remember every day that more unites us than divides us.

Frederick Douglass, one of the foremost leaders in the fight to end slavery, encouraged Americans to work together to move our country forward. Speaking to both white and black Americans, he said, “Remember that we are one, that our cause is one, and that we must help each other, if we would succeed.”

By looking at the past, it is clear that the future for African Americans is full of both opportunities and challenges. We should not only applaud and spread the word of the accomplishments of black leaders in our nation's history, but we must also build on those successes in order to continue the long journey that our people started. We all have the chance to make a difference, but we have to work together.  Remember the lessons of our ancestors and reach out to those within your community to work for a brighter future every day. 

The primary goal of Black History Month is to remind each of us of our rich heritage. We all carry within us the journey of our people and we are evidence of the success of that journey.  However, we must continue to carry the torch our ancestors and predecessors held so dear.  We have come so far yet there is still much to be done.

As long as there is injustice residing within these 50 states and throughout the rest of the world, the civil rights movement lives on, and we must continue on our march to eradicate any resemblance of racism or injustice.  Each and every Georgian has the opportunity to play an integral part in removing the remaining barriers to a prejudice mindset and I’m confident that the people of this great state will rise to the occasion.

 

About the Author

Senator Lester Jackson represents Senate District 2, which encompasses much of the City of Savannah and northern Chatham County. He currently serves on the Senate Agriculture and Consumer Affairs, Health and Human Services, Higher Education, Economic Development and Urban Affairs committees. Sen. Jackson is a Savannah family dentist, a U.S. Navy veteran and a life member of the NAACP.