"Black History: Its A Celebration"
Robert A. Sturgell, Washington, D.C.
February 7, 2007

Black History Month

Good morning. It’s a pleasure to be here to pay tribute to the contributions of African Americans.

When I saw this year’s theme — “From Slavery to Freedom: The Story of Africans in the Americas” — how appropriate, I thought, that we have with us a person who can tell a story better than most.

As a winner of journalism’s highest honor — the Pulitzer — Roger Wilkins knows a compelling story when he sees one. Welcome, professor, we’re glad to have you, and we’re all waiting with anticipation to hear what you’ve got to say.

I also want to acknowledge Larry Palmer from Airports for that stirring invocation, and Tamika Law, Keith Brannon, and Tim Brooks for sharing the gift of music. Thank you all very much.

Martin Luther King and others often said that black Americans must assert a sense of their own worth.

Well, this Black History Month will remind all of us that the story of black Americans adds up to just that — a truly majestic sense of worth.

Black history in the United States has been a proving ground for America’s ideals. The first great test of our political good faith came with the Civil War and the rooting out of slavery as an institution.

The second came a century later, in the struggle for the recognition of the rights already won in principle — the abolition of second-class citizenship.

To make Americans aware of these struggles, and of all that preceded and followed them, is a foremost purpose of why we come together like this every February.

It is also a time to celebrate the achievements of blacks in every field, from science and the arts to politics and religion. And just this past week, Tony Dungy became the first black coach to win the Super Bowl. And of course, aviation.

Look no further than the Tuskegee Airmen, those magnificent men in their flying machines.

When you look into their exploits and hear all those tales of heroism and bravery, we get a good sense of what I mean when I talk about having a majestic sense of worth.

Lucky for us, more than 25 of the Airmen have called the FAA home. A few more have worked across the street at the Department. These are patriots with a deep-seated sense of mission, not unlike the FAA employees of today.

Together, what we strive for every day — safe and efficient air travel — connects us with each other and with the world community.

In the same vein, Black History Month connects African Americans with one another. And, it offers all Americans an occasion and an opportunity to gain a fuller perspective of the contributions of black Americans to our nation. So let us appreciate this opportunity and build on it.

Black history — it’s a book filled with rich and unexplored pages, each with a story of courage and determination just waiting to be told. So let the stories begin. Thank you, we’ve got a great program this morning and through the month, so let me turn it over to Jim Washington. Jim…