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Rubio Celebrates Black History Month, Meets with HBCU Presidents

Feb 28, 2017 | Blog

On this final day of February and Black History Month, I had the privilege of gathering with presidents of America’s historically black colleges and universities, who were in Washington for a gathering hosted by my good friend, Senator Tim Scott (R-SC).

We discussed the necessity of a high quality education in order to succeed in the 21st century, as well as the importance of making sure a college degree does not require students to take on insurmountable amounts of debt. Since the 1800s, historically black colleges and universities have played a central role in helping young African-Americans realize their dreams. “I’m the first in my family to graduate from college,” is something graduates from every university and college in America can say; but when you hear it from graduates of historically black colleges and universities, it comes up with a unique sense of pride given the challenges these institutions have overcome in the past.

In Florida, we are the proud home of Florida A&M, Bethune-Cookman University, Edward Waters College and Florida Memorial University.

As Black History Month comes to an end, it’s important to recognize the historic role of these colleges and universities in our country’s history, as well as the countless contributions African-Americans have made to our great nation. The strength, courage, resilience and faith of many not only helped them gain equal rights under the law, but helped us move closer to becoming the nation we were founded to be. As I walk to and from the U.S. House of Representatives chamber tonight for the president’s address to Congress, I will be reminded of this yet again when I walk through Statuary Hall and pass by the statue of a seated Rosa Parks, whose quiet act of resistance spoke volumes and changed the world.

As Florida’s senator, this month has also served as a reminder of how African-Americans have influenced Florida’s vitality, culture, and history.

Pivotal moments of the civil rights movement unfolded in St. Augustine, America’s first city. These events helped pave a path to equality in our communities and government. Civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King and hundreds of others resisted Jim Crow policies in the city’s streets, eventually grabbing the attention of the nation and President Lyndon Johnson, and helping convince him to push for passage of the landmark Civil Rights Act.

African-Americans in Florida and across our nation will continue to play a crucial role in our continued progress. America is a land of rich diversity that has been shaped by the many unique heritages and customs of our people. Our nation has witnessed the American Dream come alive through the economic, artistic, and public service contributions African-Americans have made to our society. I am honored to stand with African-Americans across the nation as this celebratory month comes to a close.