The pioneers of Black History Month created an impact that has been powerful enough to transcend history. The lives of African Americans have improved throughout time because of the blood, sweat, tears, voices, and hard work of Black men and women around our great nation. I want to take this time to thank the community leaders and political leaders that paved the way.

I celebrate Dr. Carter G. Woodson, who founded the Association for the Study of Negro Life, which led to Black History Month; Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., leading the Civil Rights Movement for Equal Justice. Join me in celebrating Shirley Chisholm for her contributions to history as the first African American female elected to the United States Congress; Sydney Poitier, the first African American to win the Academy Award for Best Actor, for his role in “Lilies of the Field;” Thurgood Marshall, he was the first African American Supreme Court Justice.

I am extremely grateful for the countless African American men and women who sacrificed to pave the way for others.

God blessed these leaders to walk the face of this earth to make positive change. We are all standing on the shoulders of great African Americans that were beacons, shining a light on the path forward as we look back at Black History. Thank you.

Dr. Shandale Terrell, Lakeland