Good morning. Recently, I had the honor of welcoming Coretta Scott King and
her children to the White House to observe Martin Luther King, Jr.'s birthday.
Shortly after the holiday I visited the school that young Dr. King attended
in Atlanta, Booker T. Washington High School. It was a moving experience to
see the place where this great American began his life of learning.
February is Black History Month, a time of learning for all of us. Ever since
the historian and educator, Carter Woodson, put black history on the calendar
back in 1926, February has been a time to reflect on the contributions of African
Americans, and the need to remember and celebrate all of our history.
Nobody can understand this country without understanding the African American
experience. It began when America began. And throughout our history, the experience
of black Americans has challenged every American to live up to the best ideals
of our country: freedom, equality and justice.
We have come far, and we have a way yet to go, but our goal is the same goal
that Dr. King set for us, to be one people in fact, as well as in name. And
one way to realize this goal is the same way that Carter Woodson showed us,
Education is the beginning of opportunity. Through the historic Education Reform
Bill I recently signed, we are returning high standards and accountability to
all our public schools. And my administration strongly supports the work and
the mission of our historically black colleges and universities.
My first budget pledged a 30 percent increase over four years, and federal support
for historically black colleges and universities and Hispanic-serving institutions.
And my new budget, even in a time of recession and war, keeps us on track to
reach that target. These are schools like Morehouse College in Atlanta, where
Dr. King earned his first degree, schools like Howard University in Washington,
D.C., where Carter Woodson was Dean of the College of Liberal Arts.
Our historically black colleges and universities opened the door to knowledge,
when other doors were barred. And today they offer exciting opportunities to
young people to contribute to their country.
February is a month rich in important anniversaries. It is the month in which
Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass were born -- two men, very different,
who together ended slavery. It is the month of the birth of W.E.B. DuBois, whose
eloquent histories opened our country's eyes to its own past and possibilities;
and of the birth of Rosa Parks, who courageously refused to yield to injustice
on a Montgomery, Alabama bus.
Today we are fighting for freedom in a new way, and on new battlefields. And
we continue to press for equal opportunity for every American here at home.
We want every American to be educated up to his or her full potential. We salute
the accomplishments of our historically black colleges and universities. And
I hope all Americans will draw inspiration from the message of Black History