Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-Oakland) issued the following statement to commemorate Black History Month:
"The celebration of Black History Month has grown from a week established by Dr. Carter Woodson in 1926, to a month-long opportunity to reflect on the many contributions African Americans have made in every facet of American life.
This February we also celebrate two landmarks in American history: the 150th anniversary of President Abraham Lincoln issuing the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863 and the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights March on Washington in 1963. The Emancipation Proclamation 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 crowd of freedom fighters that marched on the Lincoln Memorial.
"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.
"However, our 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. We must come together now to enact bold programs and policies that provide equal opportunity and equal access for every single American, leaving no one behind.
"Black History Month reminds us to continue fight for justice and equality and should be a uniting call to our nation to continue to work for a more perfect union. This includes fighting to end poverty, violence, healthcare disparities, voter suppression efforts and the achievement gap in our education system. We must rise up and demand that America cashes the check written by our forefathers that gives us all the complete benefits of freedom and the security of justice. We cannot relent until our quest for racial and social justice is paid in full."