Black History Month is a time we as a country reflect on the contributions Blacks have made to our society through its foundation to education, inventions, social progress, etc. For me, as a Black woman, it's a reminder of those ancestors before me who have paved the way for me today. It's a reminder of the sacrifices made with sweat, blood, and tears that opened opportunities for me to be allowed to learn to read, to attend integrated schools, to attend college, to vote, to sit where I chose on the bus, to eat where I want, to own my own property, to stay in hotels I desire, to use the restroom or drink from water fountains without restrictions and to have a voice ... not only to witness our first Black US President in 2008, but to be elected as Tracy Councilmember twice, appointed as first Black Mayor Pro Tem, and elected as the first Black Mayor of Tracy in 2021.

Black History occurs when something happens that changes the world around that change maker, whether from the day of Negroes, to Blacks, to People of Color, to African American. Black History is happening now in the city of Tracy because of my election as its first Black Mayor, the first to break the barrier of change from the old guard to the new guard of inclusionary, embracing equity, thus evolving to reflect the essence of the community around us.

As I reflect on the Old National Negro Anthem, "Lift Every Voice and Sing", it speaks of the plight of true liberty. It's a cry for all heaven and earth to hear. It reflects on the faith that the dark past has taught us, the hope that the presence has brought us, and the plight of the future marching forward until true victory is obtained.

The celebration of Black History must continue because although we've made progress as a people and Civil Rights has been won in some areas, this battle is far from over. Civil Rights are still at a disparity when it comes to justice when Blacks still hold the highest percentage of residents in our penal system; when we have to train our children differently for fear their lives mean less to those who vow to protect us. Civil Rights are still challenged when Blacks earn a fraction of our counterparts in the same position, oftentimes when we have more education and experience. Civil Rights are still challenged when equal still is not equal and equity is far from equitable. Civil Rights for Blacks still has a way to go for victory to be won.

Meanwhile, Black History will still serve as that reminder, that check on America's pulse that we too are American ... African American, helping frame its story. It's serves as a reminder that many great people known and unknown have contributed to the success of our country, our world. It's serves as a motivator and inspiration for those today and tomorrow to utilize the shoulders of our ancestral foundation and step up and make our future better."

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