Progress in America has never come easy. Through centuries of struggle and hard-won victories, our country has been shaped by generations of Americans who believed this could be the Nation envisioned in our founding principles —a nation where all are treated equal, and all are free to pursue their dreams. With the leadership and resilience of African Americans, who have tirelessly championed these principles throughout our history, our Union continues to move forward toward a stronger, more just future for all.
This National African American History Month, as we reflect on “Civil Rights in America,” we celebrate historic achievements and foot soldiers, well-known and unknown, who fought to secure rights long denied. But as we hail our successes as a nation, we also acknowledge that there is more work to be done. We still have more to do to ensure every American has access to the health care they need at a price they can afford. We must keep fighting until every worker knows the stability of a fair wage, every family has access to ladders of opportunity into the middle class, and every young person gets a world-class education to prepare them for tomorrow’s jobs.
The Obama Administration has made strides in restoring opportunity for all Americans, and throughout the month of February we will highlight healthcare, economic mobility, young men of color and the impact of STEM as creating pathways of success and security for African Americans.
This week our focus is on the Affordable Care Act. While statistics show that 1 in 5 African Americans are uninsured, the Affordable Care Act provides an opportunity for every American to access affordable healthcare. Organizations like the NAACP and National Urban League along with African American churches have been hosting enrollment sessions from Richmond to Dallas to Los Angeles. Secretary Sebelius will meet with African American leaders on benefits of the Affordable Care Act this week, and to discuss efforts to enroll Americans in coverage before the March 31 enrollment deadline. The week concludes with Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, where we will work to raise awareness about survival stories and highlight the work being done in government, academia, public health medicine, and community outreach to tackle the HIV/AIDS epidemic.
Heather Foster is an Advisor in the White House Office of Public Engagement.