white house
Photo by Aaron Kittredge on Pexels.com

The White House issued a statement acknowledging February Black History Month. It reads, in part, “During National Black History Month, we celebrate the legacy of Black Americans whose power to lead, to overcome, and to expand the meaning and practice of American democracy has helped our Nation become a more fair and just society.”

Every president occupying the Oval Office has the capacity to govern from the premise that, in the words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., “The ultimate test of a man (woman) is not where he (she) stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he (she) stands at times of challenge and controversy.”

As we commemorate Black History Month 2023, I am mindful of the many moments in our history that have occurred in the Oval Office. Here are a few:

In August of 1863, Frederick Douglass visited President Abraham Lincoln to urge equal pay for Black soldiers. Lincoln and Douglass had one final meeting in March 1865, a month before the president’s assassination.

Mary McLeod Bethune became a trusted adviser to President Franklin D. Roosevelt and his wife, Eleanor. During her many visits to the Oval Office, she played a key role in shaping social and economic policies for Blacks in the 1930s and 1940s.

On June 11, 1963, President John F. Kennedy announced that he would be sending civil rights legislation to Congress. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 was signed into law on July 2 by President Lyndon B. Johnson.

Barack H. Obama, on January 20, 2009, became the first Black man to enter the Oval Office as president. Among his accomplishments was the passage of the Affordable Care Act.

On March 29, 2022, President Joe Biden met with Emmett Till’s family before signing the Emmett Till Anti-Lynching Act into law. Standing by him in his office was the first female and Black vice president of the United States, Kamala Harris.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *