Clyburn Statement On Black History Month

Feb 4, 2014

WASHINGTON --  Assistant Democratic Leader James E. Clyburn today issued the following statement in recognition of Black History Month:

“During the month of February, the country celebrates Black History Month, the efficacy of which is often discussed and debated.  I believe Black History Month is just as important as Women’s History Month (March), Hispanic History Month (November), Columbus Day, St. Patrick’s Day, and Veterans Day.  All of these commemorations help us appreciate and honor the great diversity of backgrounds and experiences that help to make us the greatest nation on earth.

“This year’s theme for Black History Month is ‘Civil Rights in America.’  As a young man growing up in the Jim Crow South, I experienced firsthand the harsh indignities and cruel reality of racial discrimination.  During my college days I became active in civil rights activities.  At Shaw University in Raleigh, North Carolina in April 1960, and Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia the following October, we formed the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee, or SNCC, to organize non-violent rallies to raise the nation’s awareness of the injustices that existed all around us.

“This year marks the 56th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.   This long-overdue legislation and its subsequent amendments gave statutory impetus to the Supreme Court’s 1954 decision in Brown v. Board of Education, which declared that separate but equal is inherently unequal.  A year later, President Lyndon Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act of 1965 into law.

“As a former history teacher, I have often said that the study of history is the study of human nature using examples.  The struggle for civil rights continues.  We continue to struggle for equal pay for equal work for women; marriage equality for same-sex couples; adequate education for all of our nation’s children; an effective ballot for all qualified voters; and an economy that works for all hard-working citizens.  Unfortunately it’s a list that seems to be growing.

“During this year’s observance of Black, Women’s and Hispanic History Months, let us study, and hopefully learn, some lessons that will serve us well in our quest of ‘a more perfect Union.’”