By Town of Friday Harbor Mayor Ray Jackson
African American History Month is a time to reflect upon the challenges and achievements of past, present and future men and women of African American descent of whose contributions, creativity, innovations and personal sacrifices helped to shape the landscape and status of this country we call our home. I have no doubt that the vast number of you who are reading this editorial are already aware and appreciative of these achievements, yet we as a country, to this day have failed in making reasonable and sensible restitution to the generations of African Americans, who because of this country’s past policies have continued to systematically keep the African American population at a disadvantage.
It is therefore my belief that the purpose of observing African American History Month is of a two-fold nature. First is for this country remembrance of the wrongs which were committed upon a race of people who were forced against their will to travel in chains across the Atlantic to an unknown land, where they were stripped of name, culture, religion, manhood, self-esteem and humanity and used as property to produce wealth and prosperity for their owners, a majority if not all were performed under tolerable human living conditions.
Secondly, that we observe and acknowledge the many achievements made by the African American community not only past but present day as well many of whom accomplished these feats while still under the racial oppression of our country. We as a people must continue to remind our children of our rich heritage so as to motivate them to succeed in a positive way, to be the beacon of hope in a world of hopelessness and to use this time as an instrument to produce the next generations of African American scholars, inventors and government leaders. As the first African American Mayor of Friday Harbor, I fully understand the significance and the responsibility that has been placed in my care not just for the citizens of the town but also that of my ancestors who could have never had this opportunity during their lifetime. I strive to be the best in everything I do in the name of those who came before me, shamefully, names we won’t ever truly know.
In closing I like to say that the time has come for us as a nation to realize that we all need each other if we wish to fulfill our goal as being a truly free and fair place which endorses and promotes racial equality, compassion and empathy, not with hollow words but with meaningful actions, displaying to the world at large that we are truly a country worthy to call the greatest country in the world. Take this month to study African American stories, and the contributions they have made to this country. Remember it always, for it is the doom of our nation should we forget!