Message on the Observance of National Afro-American (Black) History Month, February 1987

February 5, 1987

This month marks the 61st celebration of National Black History Month, an event of importance to all Americans. The celebration takes on special meaning this year because of its theme, ``The Afro-American and the Constitution: Colonial Times to the Present.''

As Americans prepare to celebrate the Bicentennial of the Constitution, we have an opportunity to explore once again the richness of our founding document and the changes it has undergone throughout its two centuries of existence. The experience of Black Americans is a critical part of that history, holding enduring lessons for all of us about the true meaning of liberty. Black Americans fought in the Revolution which gave birth to this Nation, but it took the Civil War, several amendments to the Constitution, and a series of actions by the Supreme Court, the Congress, and the Executive to secure true equality of rights for Black Americans. The story of Black Americans is the story of their continuing struggle to see fulfilled for themselves and for their children the promise and the dream of America. It is a story whose final chapters have not yet been written.

Without an understanding of America's past, we will not find the way to a future of opportunity for all. Black History Month affords every American the chance to study and to learn more about the contributions of Black Americans to our Nation's progress, from great figures like Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., to the unsung, everyday heroes who helped build, lead, and defend a land that for so long asked more of them than it offered to them.

May this traditional observance lead all of us to work still harder for the day when no trace of prejudice or injustice remains to undercut the Constitutional rights accorded every American. To this goal, in February 1987, let us pledge anew our unswerving commitment.

Ronald Reagan