"Their story is the American story we all must lift up."
Each Black History Month we honor the remarkable, too-often unacknowledged achievements and contributions that African-Americans have made to elevate our nation's political, economic, and social character. This year’s national theme – Black Migrations - emphasizes the self-determination of people of African descent. In the early decades of the twentieth century, African American migration from the South to the Northeast, Midwest, and West; and from the Caribbean to U.S. cities like those I represent in South Florida, resulted in a more diverse population, and the emergence of black industrial workers, entrepreneurs, educators, artists and religious, cultural and social movements.
History left untold, is history erased. So we must highlight these untold stories that show the work, ingenuity, and strength, resilience and power of black people – who traveled to unfamiliar destinations to make a better life for their families and themselves.
Today, I salute Dr. J.P. Austin who left Haiti at the age of nine years old, and moved to Queens, New York to join his exiled parents. He went on to attend New York University, where he majored in Economics. Upon graduation, he attended medical school at the State University of New York Medical Center at Brooklyn. Currently Dr. Austin is the Chief of Radiation Oncology with the Miami VA Healthcare System. Last October he helped unveil a state of the art radiotherapy system at the hospital that will now deliver powerful cancer treatments with pinpoint accuracy and precision.
Across this nation, African Americans are still fighting for a more perfect union: for the right to vote, and for equal access to quality health care, education and prosperity. These stories of persistence and success are what we must share during Black History Month, and throughout the year, because they embody America’s proud tradition of dissent and patriotism, and its finest pursuit of equality and justice for all. Their story is the American story we all must lift up.