Public Papers - 1989
Message on the Observance of National Afro-American (Black) History Month, February 1989
Since 1976, the month of February has been designated National Black History Month, a time for all Americans to celebrate the rich heritage of Afro-Americans and their contributions to our nation.
Despite first slavery and then segregation, Afro-Americans have overcome seemingly insurmountable odds to be at the cutting edge of change and progress in American society. From the winning of Independence -- when Crispus Attucks gave his life in the Boston Massacre and Benjamin Banneker helped draw the plans for our nation's capital -- to the present day, Black Americans have played a vital role in the development of the United States. One thinks of Dr. Daniel Hale Williams performing the first successful heart surgery and of George Washington Carver revolutionizing southern agriculture with his countless innovations.
There have been so many more. This month gives us all a chance to reflect on how much Afro-Americans have contributed, a chance to learn from the past in order to look confidently toward a new century, with a commitment to lasting harmony between the races and a bright future for Americans of every background.
Barbara joins me in commending all of you for your observance of Black History Month 1989, and in sending you our best wishes.