For all Americans, Black History Month brings an excellent opportunity to come together, to honor a shared history, and to celebrate the inspiring contributions of our ancestors. Through the tapestry of our nation are woven many inspirational events relating the trials of overcoming hardship, often leading to hard-fought successes that established an indelible impact on American society for future generations.
Starting with the sacrifice of Crispus Attucks at the Boston Massacre, African-Americans have bravely defended our freedoms throughout the nation's history. Likewise, many of our forebears fought to extend liberty and equal rights for all Americans. Much as the Buffalo Soldiers opened the door for the Tuskegee Airmen, Frederick Douglass opened the door for Martin Luther King Jr.
Thanks to the sacrifices of activists, advocates, and visionaries like Sojourner Truth, Harriett Tubman, Jackie Robinson, Mary McLeod Bethune, Booker T. Washington, Shirley Chisholm, Rosa Parks and thousands of others, today we have the right to stand up, fight for, and dream of a better life for ourselves and generations yet to come.
As we celebrate this month of remembrance, let us look back in order to honor the struggles and celebrate the triumphs of African-Americans throughout our history. But let us not forget that those struggles were endured and those triumphs attained so that we may move forward.
Our heroes of the past fought for that right. That right to look forward towards a future brighter than the past, filled with the opportunities that give our nation so much promise. If we wish to continue the progress of those on whose shoulders we stand, we should never forget our past.
This February, I hope you'll join me in celebrating Black History Month by recognizing two important victories in American history: the 150th anniversary of President Abraham Lincoln issuing the Emancipation Proclamation and the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights March on Washington.
As we look back to remember and to honor those who refused to allow the status quo to hold this nation back from the fulfillment of its promise, we remember the words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. from that historic August day in 1963:
"I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal."
With the second inauguration of President Obama, we are reminded that we have reached a new milestone in our nation's history. It has been a long road to this point, and yet we have so much farther to go.
For Dr. King, and all of us who follow in his footsteps, the "dream" is anything but an empty fantasy. It is an on-going call to action. It is a renewal of our commitment to stand up for the cause of freedom that is the heritage of each and every one of us as American citizens.
It is my sincere hope that during this Black History Month, Americans will continue to reflect upon and appreciate our nation's diverse cultural melting pot, as well as celebrate the contributions made by African-Americans to our great society as America so our children may look forward to a future of greater promise, greater justice, and greater opportunity than has ever been previously imagined.
As we celebrate Black History month, let us remember the motto from Albany State University, "A past to cherish, a future to fulfill!"
To watch on Congressman Sanford Bishop's YouTube Channel, please click here.