February 1, 1988

February traditionally has been our National Black History Month. In our celebration of this period, all Americans should reflect on the theme, ``The Constitutional Status of Afro-Americans into the Twenty-first Century.''

Black Americans' mighty contributions to the greatness of this land we call America have been tinged with poignant irony. Though they endured the chains of slavery and segregation, Afro-Americans have fought and died to keep our Nation's flame of liberty burning brightly. Theirs is a chronicle that can best be described as a litany of hope and faith in our Constitution's principles and in the ultimate fulfillment of its promise of equality under God for all.

Our Founding Fathers were the architects of the greatest political document ever written. In its preamble, they recorded their dream of securing ``the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity. . . .'' The dream of liberty for black Americans found many courageous champions before and during the bloody years of the Civil War, in the Jim Crow era, and in the modern civil rights movement. They saw that the bell of liberty rings hollow unless applied equally to Americans of every race, creed, and color.

The issues of freedom and equality are at the very core of National Afro-American (Black) History Month. This month offers all Americans the chance to learn more about a vital part of our history. But as we learn, we must remember that the battle against the disease known as prejudice cannot be waged and won in one era and forgotten in another. Every generation must renew the fight against injustice.

Ronald Reagan