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Guest Column by Friday Harbor Mayor: The Clarification of African American History Month

  • Written by Ray Jackson, Mayor of Town of Friday Harbor

African American History Month is a time to reflect upon the challenges and achievements of past, present and future men and women of African American descent, of whose contributions, creativity, innovations and personal sacrifices, helped to shape the landscape and status of this country we call our home. 

I have no doubt that the vast number of you reading this editorial are already aware and appreciate these achievements. Yet it saddens me that as a nation, we continue to fail at making sensible restitution to those past generations of African Americans or sensible changes at present to policies that systematically keep the population at a disadvantage. 

It is therefore my belief that the purpose of observing African American History Month is two-fold. 

The first is to remember the wrongs which were committed upon a race of people who were forced against their will to travel in chains across the Atlantic to an unknown land, where they were stripped of name, culture, religion, manhood, self-esteem and humanity, to be used as property to produce wealth and prosperity for their owners, the majority performed under intolerable human living conditions.

The second is to observe and acknowledge the many achievements made by the African American community, both past and present. We, as a people, must continue to remind our children of our rich heritage, to motivate them to succeed in positive ways, to be a beacon of hope and to use this time as inspiration to produce the next generation of African American scholars, inventors and government leaders. 

As the first African American Mayor of Friday Harbor, I fully understand the significance and the responsibility that has been placed in my care. Not just for the citizens of the town, but also for my ancestors who could have never had this opportunity during their lifetimes. I strive to be the best in everything I do in the name of those who came before me, shamefully, names we won't ever truly know. 

The time has come for our nation to realize that we all need one another if we wish to fulfill our goal to be a truly free and fair society which promotes and lives racial equality, compassion and empathy. This is not done with hollow words. It is with meaningful actions that display to the world that we are truly a nation worthy to called the greatest country in the world. 

In closing, take this month to study the African American Story and the contributions made to this country. Remember it always, for it will be the doom of our nation should we forget!

Ray Jackson

Mayor of Town of Friday Harbor