Congressman Pete Visclosky

Representing the 1st District of Indiana

Visclosky Statement Submitted in the Congressional Record on Black History Month

Feb 1, 2017
Press Release

Washington, DC – Today, Congressman Pete Visclosky released the statement below submitted in the Congressional Record on Black History Month.

Mr. Speaker, it is with great respect that I rise today to celebrate Black History Month and its 2017 theme – ‘The Crisis in Black Education’.  This year’s theme reflects on the crucial role of education in the past, present, and future of the African American community.  As Americans, we come together to commend the many educators, writers, and mentors who have worked so diligently to improve educational opportunities for African American students throughout the country, but we must acknowledge that there is still much more progress to be made.

Throughout American history, the unfortunate reality is that there have been racial barriers to equal education.  The crisis in black education began during the era of slavery when it was against the law for slaves to learn how to read and write.  Before the Civil War, free blacks in northern cities had to walk long distances to attend the one school regulated solely for African American students, while this limitation did not exist for white children.  By 1910, segregation was established throughout the south.  African American schools were of lower quality and received less government funding per student than in white schools.  During the Civil Rights Movement, significant steps toward positive change were made, including the Supreme Court case of ‘Brown vs. Board of Education’, which outlawed segregated school facilities for black and white students at the state level.  The Civil Rights Act of 1964 ended state and local laws requiring segregation.

Today, many African American youth remain exposed to public school systems where resources are limited, overcrowding occurs, and a glaring racial achievement gap is evident, especially in urban areas.  As Americans, we must continue to work together to resolve the crisis in black education as it is, without a doubt, one of the most critical issues facing our communities.       

This month and always, it is important that we honor and celebrate America’s greatest advocates for equal rights and civil liberties.  Along with this month’s theme, we honor those who have fought for equal educational opportunities for African Americans, including Booker T. Washington, W.E.B. Du Bois, Cornell West, Maxine Smith, Carlotta Walls LaNier, Joe Lewis Clark, Fannie Jackson Coppin, and Alexander Crummell, among many others.  As we pay tribute to these heroes of American history, let us remember their profound perseverance, sacrifice, and struggle in the fight for freedom and equality, and the remarkable impact their contributions have had in shaping our great nation.   

Mr. Speaker, I ask that you and my distinguished colleagues join me in celebrating Black History Month and honoring those who fought, and continue to fight, for civil rights and justice.  We honor the African American educators, scholars, and supporters of educational equality, who have played such a critical role in changing the landscape of American society for the better.  As we reflect on the state of black education, let us never forget the struggle of our predecessors while remembering that there is still much work to be done.