On Wednesday, Rep. Frederica Wilson, also known as the founder of the 5000 Role Models for Excellence Project, made the following statement on Black History Month.
"Each February, the nation takes the time to acknowledge the meaningful history of African Americans in the U.S. and how much that history is woven into the fabric of our country. African Americans, famous and not, have made an indelible impact on the creation of our great country. For these and many more reasons, I take this time to celebrate Black History Month.
'This year, we pay special tribute to the role that African American women have played in shaping our country. As an African American woman, I personally want to thank all of the visionaries who we honor as we celebrate Black Women in American Culture and History. The challenges they faced, both because of the color of the skin and their gender, were great. And yet strong women such as Harriet Tubman led the fight to end slavery; and in our own lifetime, Rosa Parks played a key role in the civil rights movement. As a Congresswoman, I would not be where I am if not for Shirley Chisholm. But you do not have to be famous to make a difference – you can be a teacher, a doctor, a lawyer… or a mentor.
"In this and every month, let us honor the contributions and sacrifices, which so many members of our community have made. Those contributions and sacrifices were necessary in order to strive for equality not just for African Americans, but for all Americans. As a nation, we have come very far, but we still have a long road ahead. We have to continue to fight for the members of our community, as many African Americans still face barriers that prohibit us from closing the opportunity and income gaps.
"One of the most significant gains made by African Americans was the right to vote. In the wake of Florida laws aimed at suppressing voter turnout and registration, we need to remind ourselves about the past struggle. We must continue to be vigilant in protecting the right to vote and encourage everyone in our community to participate.
"Education is the bedrock of this nation – therefore, let us devote our energy to educating all our children about the importance of Black History Month. Let us teach them that the history of African Americans in this country shows us the significance of the shared responsibility that all Americans have, to move our country forward."