This past week, I proudly issued our state’s annual proclamation for Black History Month – an opportunity to celebrate the contributions of remarkable Delawareans. They’re people like famous civil rights attorney Louis Redding, community leader and Metropolitan Wilmington Urban League founder James Gilliam Sr., and jazz trumpeter Clifford Brown as well as the many talented musicians who perform at the festival bearing his name. We also unveiled the state’s new exhibit marking 125 years of great contributions by students and faculty of Delaware State University.
As we recognize these extraordinary accomplishments, we realize that this month is not just about black history, it’s about Delaware’s history – it’s about achievements that have a made a difference for everyone in our communities. We should be reminded what’s possible when we give all of our people the chance to realize their potential. In Delaware and across our country, African-Americans have often been denied that opportunity, and this month’s celebrations show we have made progress, but we have more to do. I signed the General Assembly’s formal resolution apologizing for the state’s role in slavery because a candid acknowledgement and acceptance of our past is the only way to understand our present and take full responsibility for our future.
We must refuse to forget our past and instead be determined to learn from it as we tackle issues that trouble us today, like the disproportionate representation of people of color in our criminal justice system. We must accept the responsibility of tearing down barriers that face so many of our neighbors as a result of historic discrimination. Every step we take toward opportunity for all brings us closer to the society we want for ourselves and our children. It means more great Delaware achievers of all races. And it keeps Delaware moving forward.