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For Immediate Release
February 5, 2007
African-American History Month Message, 2007
I am pleased to join you to celebrate African-American History Month. During this special month, we honor the many contributions that African-Americans have made to our country, to our culture, to our national character.
Throughout our history, leaders like Frederick Douglass, Rosa Parks, and Martin Luther King Jr. have called our Nation to live up to the words of the Declaration of Independence. Each of them invoked the self-evident truth that all men are created equal and their courage roused the conscience of a complacent nation. With eloquence and determination, these men and women forced Americans to examine our hearts, revise our laws, and make America the land of justice it was always supposed to be.
A few months ago, we broke ground for the construction of the Martin Luther King Memorial on the National Mall. This memorial will lie between the Jefferson and Lincoln Memorials. It will reflect the arc of Dr. King's life, his search for justice, and the enduring beauty of his words. By its presence, the King Memorial will remind all Americans who visit our capital that a life of conscience can lift up millions of lives.
In December, I was proud to award the Medal of Freedom to three great Americans. Buck O'Neil was a star first baseman at a time when the color barrier kept African Americans out of the big leagues. But he stayed with the game he loved and helped both baseball and our nation change for the better. B.B. King was born the son of poor share croppers. He used his guitar to create a new American art form and is now known to the world as the King of Blues. Dr. Norman Francis is a college president whose finest hour came amid his beloved city's worst trial. His leadership after hurricane Katrina has helped give the people of New Orleans new hope.
This month we also honor the thousands of African-American men and women who wear the uniform of the United States. They follow in a long and proud tradition. They have helped bring the promise of freedom to millions across the world - and their achievements will be celebrated by generations to come.
African-American History Month reminds us of the great progress our nation has made toward racial equality. One of these hard-won gains was the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which for the first time in our history guaranteed African Americans their most fundamental right as citizens. The Voting Rights Act was a great achievement of the Civil Rights Movement. Last year I was proud to sign legislation reauthorizing this good law. And as we go forward, we must continue to work for an America where the dignity of every person is respected, where hope and opportunity reach into every neighborhood, and where every citizen has the chance to live the American dream.
May God bless you, and may God bless America.
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