From the escape of Ona “Oney” Judge from her enslaver, George Washington, on May 21, 1796, to the eloquence of Amanda Gorman, Inaugural Poet for President Joseph R. Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris, we have stories to tell. The brilliance, tenacity, and resilience of African Americans has shone through during our 400-plus-year journey. Our light still shines.

Our history is American history, to be lived and witnessed and celebrated every day of every year. But our history, Black history, has yet to be fully integrated into America’s principal narrative.

February is our special month. Today begins the period we set aside to confirm an American experience birthed in slavery and continuing to evolve toward freedom. Let us take full advantage of the opportunity this set-aside presents.

This is Black History Month. Celebrate what we have accomplished. Commit yourself to the collective struggle necessary to continue the progress. Act on your commitments so as to extend our legacy.

Our hope endures. Our resolve remains. Our work continues.