Date: February 21, 2017
Location: U.S. Embassy Islamabad
Remarks as Prepared
Thank you for joining me today, the first day of Black History Month 2017.
I want to also thank Lieutenant Colonel Rofelio Grinston for emceeing the kick-off ceremony! And thanks to the Black History Month Planning Committee for all of your hard work in putting a great line-up of activities for the entire community.
Black History is American history. Black History is part of our collective history, as Americans, as a people.
This year marks the 91st anniversary of Black History Celebrations in America. Each February, we remember the struggles of millions of American citizens over the most devastating obstacles – slavery, prejudice, poverty – as well as honor their profound contributions to the nation’s cultural and political life.
We continue to celebrate the extraordinary lives that are part of our history and our country today.
Last year, we opened the long-awaited African American History Museum in Washington, D.C. The museum depicts the contributions of African Americans in the formation of the United States.
During the past few weeks in America, the movie “Hidden Figures” topped box office charts. It is a story about Margo Lee Shetterly, one of three African-American woman mathematicians who worked at NASA’s Langley Research Center in the 1960s. These women triggered the initial breakdown of racial barriers within their field during the American Civil Rights Movement. It is a truly great American story.
Here in Islamabad, the American Embassy community is engaged in activities in celebration of Black History Month. Those include collecting donations for a local home for youth, a Zumba-thon, a film series, and a Black History Month Gala on February 25th.
All of these events and commemorations reaffirm that all of us are Americans — that African-American history is not somehow separate from our larger American story, it’s not the underside of the American story, it is central to the American story.