Celebrating Black History Monthby Representative Peter J. Visclosky
Posted on 2013-02-12
in the house of representatives
Tuesday, February 12, 2013
Mr. VISCLOSKY. Mr. Speaker, it is with great respect and sincere
admiration that I rise today to celebrate Black History Month and its
2013 theme--``At the Crossroads of Freedom and Equality.'' This year's
theme reminds us of two very important landmark events in American
history, the 150th anniversary of President Abraham Lincoln's issuing
of the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863 and the 50th anniversary of
the Civil Rights March on Washington in 1963. This year we recognize
the perseverance, sacrifice, and struggle of those who fought for the
freedom and equality that has shaped our great nation.
This year's theme,'' At the Crossroads of Freedom and Equality,'' focuses on our nation's struggle for equality and civil rights, beginning with President Lincoln's issuance of the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863 and the abolishing of slavery. Some one hundred years later, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. led the Civil Rights March on Washington fighting for, amongst other ideals, meaningful civil rights legislation, including better employment opportunities and an end to segregation. These historic events have had an immense impact on our nation's fight for the equal rights of all human beings, regardless of race, gender, or religious, cultural, or social beliefs. Although there is still work to be done, we must take a moment to commend the many Americans who have, against all odds, strengthened our union, fought for our freedoms, and built a better nation. This month and always, it is important to remember the courage of inspirational leaders including President Lincoln, Dr. King, Rosa Parks, Thurgood Marshall, W.E.B. Du Bois, and the many others who have played such a critical role in changing the landscape of American society for the better.
I would be remiss if I did not also pay tribute to one of Northwest Indiana's finest citizens, who passed away only a few weeks ago. As the representative of the First Congressional District of Indiana, I have had the pleasure of knowing Mr. Quentin Smith. Born in 1918, Mr. Smith saw firsthand the great injustices faced by African Americans throughout our country's history, as well as the courageous strides made toward equality and civil justice. A member of the heroic Tuskegee Airmen, Quentin's service in the 99th Fighter Squadron will forever be remembered in working to conquer America's racial divide. In a time when segregation existed not only in our communities but in the military as well, the Tuskegee Airmen are now rightfully remembered as one of the most successful units in our military's history, not only for their bravery and sacrifice in the air, but for the position they played in the progression of the military and American society as a whole. As a civilian, Mr. Smith continued to serve his community as an educator, counselor, and principal at the elementary, middle, and high school levels, as well as a professor at the collegiate level. Held in extraordinary regard in the educational community, Mr. Smith was able to utilize his vast experiences to positively influence generations to come.
Mr. Speaker, I ask that you and my distinguished colleagues join me in celebrating Black History Month and honoring those who fought, and those who continue to fight, for civil rights. Let us also remember the selfless and brave Quentin Smith. We are forever indebted to him for his contributions toward freedom and equality, and Northwest Indiana is proud to have been his home.