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WHEREAS, African Americans have contributed to the rich fabric and diversity of our Commonwealth and have made significant strides in civil rights, law, medicine, technology, food, music, literature, education, sports, entertainment, journalism and the arts; and
WHEREAS, in 1619, the first enslaved Africans arrived at the English colonies at Old Point Comfort, Virginia, on the English ships White Lion and Treasurer, and these individuals were sold in exchange for provisions, while others were transported to Jamestown, where they were sold; and
WHEREAS, between 1670 and 1865, Virginia’s enslaved population expanded to 550,000 individuals, which constituted one third of the Commonwealth’s population; and
WHEREAS, between 1863 and 1865, hundreds of black men fought in the American Civil War and died as enlisted men in the United States Colored Troops, seeking life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness as a free people; and
WHEREAS, after 1865, and the ratification of the Thirteenth, Fourteenth, and Fifteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution, enslaved men, women, and children were granted their freedom and allowed to live as fully free citizens; and
WHEREAS, between 1867 and 1890, African American men were given the right to vote for and to be elected delegates to the Virginia Constitutional Convention, and nearly 100 African American men won election to the convention, the House of Delegates and the Senate of Virginia, and hundreds more as workers in city, county and federal government offices; and
WHEREAS, between 1954 and 1968, African American activists, particularly women, spearheaded the Civil Rights Movement, fought for social justice, constitutional rights, organized sit-ins, workshops, boycotts and grassroots campaigns; and
WHEREAS, today, African Americans continue to make gains in public office, education, and professional fields, and as entrepreneurs, as well as fight for an inclusive vision of liberty, justice, and equality for all; and
WHEREAS, the Commonwealth of Virginia, acknowledges, celebrates, and appreciates the incomparable contributions and foundation set forth by African Americans as they continue to lead and advance in areas from civil rights and social justice to the highest office in the United States;
NOW, THEREFORE, I, Ralph S. Northam, do hereby recognize February 2019 as BLACK HISTORY MONTH in our COMMONWEALTH OF VIRGINIA, and I call this observance to the attention of all our citizens.