Today, in recognition of Black History Month, New York State Assembly Member Michael Blake released the following statement:
“Today, at the beginning of Black History Month, we recognize the long history of achievement and perseverance by Black Americans. Let us take this opportunity to proclaim that Black history is American history and it's celebration should not be limited to one month.
Growing up, my mother would often tell us the stories of her youth in Saint Ann, Jamaica and the lessons learned primarily from her grandmother that helped shape who she is today. We must show that respect and honor to all our loved ones who have opened up doors for us, just as we pave the way for those who follow in our footsteps.
While it is important to recognize the achievements of those who came before us, it is important to remember that Black history is still being made today. From Tamika Mallory who served as the Co-Chair of the Women's March on Washington, Carl Heastie, the first Black Speaker in the New York State Assembly, to Jeff Ballou, the first Black President of the National Press Club; we continue to make strives forward and demonstrate that new history is being made everyday.
Our first Black President, Former President Barack Obama and Former First Lady Michelle Obama, have given hope to a whole new generation, and we must work to ensure that they are not the last. This starts by addressing the pressing issues present in our communities: underemployment, gun violence, health equity, food deserts, and access to equal education.
Our work is not over: the Black community's struggle against racism, violence, and our quest for justice and recognition is a testament to our strength as a people. Our history shows us that this same strength was shown by those who have come before us. By understanding our history, we are able to create a better future for all.”