February is National Black History Month in the United States, a month set aside to honor the lives of those African Americans who have fought the struggle for the right to enjoy the privileges of citizenship fully as guaranteed by our U.S. Constitution.

Ignacio Salazar, SER National President and Chief Executive Officer, states, “At this time, we recommit to our mission of lifting the lives of African Americans, along with all the other men and women we serve daily. Black History Month reminds us that the struggle for just and equal opportunity is generational. Each of us is dedicated to lending our voice, skills, and resources daily to move our communities forward through job training and services. Also, this is a chance to be intentional about learning and sharing the achievements of African American men and women. Doing so empowers us all and strengthens our appreciation for America’s beauty.”

Black History Month’s roots date back to 1925, and an African American historian, educated at Harvard. Carter G. Woodson wanted to create a way to teach others about Black men and women’s contributions and dispel discrimination. The first observance was known as Negro History Week and was celebrated the last week of February. This date coincided with the birthdays of President Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglas, a man who escaped slavery in Maryland and became a renowned social reformer and abolitionist. President Gerald Ford expanded the celebration in 1976 to a month-long observance.

“This year, the theme of Black History Month is Black Resistance,” says Salazar. “This teaching reminds us of our collective duty as a society to be in solidarity with African Americans. They continue to seek full acceptance, which they have earned since their forced arrival in America as enslaved people. Today, they seek the nation’s respect and acknowledgment, not as victims, but as triumphant Americans who have overcome historical adversity, injustice, and exclusion. SER Jobs for Progress National and our Network of Affiliates, join with them in this quest and applaud their many important victories,” said Salazar.