As we reflect upon and celebrate the accomplishments of African Americans this month, I participated in several events to share my experiences with the youth of our commonwealth. 

I joined the scholars at Richmond Community High School for their Black History program.  These students came well-prepared, having previously watched a preview of the new feature-length documentary “L. Douglas Wilder: Beyond Wilder Dreams,” which explores my life in service to the people. 

I encourage you to also watch this extended film preview.

Following my remarks, the students prompted me with many thoughtful and insightful questions. Despite their ages, their awareness of the issues affecting our world, as well as their willingness to explore solutions and challenge assumptions, gives me a spirited hope and belief for their— and our— shared ambitions to better our world. 

I was pleased to welcome parents who brought two Battlefield Park Elementary School students to meet with me at the Wilder School.  These bright, young minds interviewed me for a Black History Month poster project. I hope they’ll eventually join the Wilder School freshmen class of 2035!

Witnessing the potential in the students I meet fills me with hope. I am heartened to know that we are preparing the next generation of citizens to become involved in their communities and to study, learn, and ask questions that critically analyze how history has impacted our world. I commend their parents’ support in furthering their education and willingness to learn from the realities of the past.

Broadly, Black history is a part of our shared American history. We continue to make our voices heard to recognize the historic inequalities and denial of opportunities toward people of color. We cannot improve as a people if we refuse to learn about and acknowledge our nation’s history.

Americans of every stripe, religion or color have an obligation to demand what is right and criticize what is wrong. The voices of the people must always be heard — not just during this month of recognition but throughout each day of the year. We are Americans first, and the time is always right to do what is right.

Stay tuned.

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