Congresswoman Maxine Waters (CA-43) released the following statement today in recognition of Black History Month, a commemoration that has taken place since 1976.
"As we celebrate Black History Month, it is important that we take this time to honor the significant contributions African-Americans have made as a part of our nation's diverse tapestry. The theme for this year's Black History Month is "Civil Rights in America," focusing on the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which outlawed discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex or national origin.
"Throughout the Civil Rights Movement, national leaders like the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Rosa Parks, Dr. Joseph Lowery, Rev. Jesse Jackson, Sr., Andrew Young, and my colleague, Congressman John Lewis worked diligently to ensure civil rights for all Americans. Armed with the power of nonviolence, civil rights leaders and advocates alike succeeded in organizing and uniting our nation on matters of racial equality. During this year's Black History month, it is important that we celebrate those responsible for shifting our nation's consciousness towards racial equality allowing us to enjoy the freedoms and opportunities available today.
"The Civil Rights Act was passed during a time when African-Americans faced unfair conditions and treatment in almost every aspect of their daily lives. Even though we recognize how far we have come as a nation, there is still tremendous progress to be made. Significant disparities still persist in the health, education and incarceration rates of African-Americans across the country. An inexcusable wage gap still persists between hardworking female and male workers. And now, as our nation encourages democracy abroad, our own voting rights at home are under siege.
"Now is the time for us to recommit to fortifying the progress that has been made and address the significant issues that affect us all, regardless of race or ethnicity. Investing in good jobs and effective job training, raising the minimum wage, and protecting the right to vote remain important concerns for us all today. Let's commit to ensuring the ladders of opportunity are available to all Americans and make these things a national priority."