Thank you, Richard, for that kind introduction and for the work that you and your colleagues in the Justice Management Division, Equal Employment Opportunity Office, as well as the Department’s Community Oriented Policing Services, Blacks in Government Chapter, have done to organize today’s event. It’s a pleasure to be here, and it’s an honor to join with you all in welcoming to the Justice Department Chairman Isaac Fulwood, Jr. of the U.S. Parole Commission.
Over eight decades ago, on February 12, 1926, Dr. Carter Woodson established Black History week in order to preserve the history of African Americans. Through this celebration, which now extends to the full month of February, we have fostered an important American tradition.
Today, as we come together to commemorate Black History Month, it is not only a chance to reflect on how far our nation and the African-American community has traveled on the long road toward equality and freedom. It’s also a time to rededicate ourselves to the principles at the core of all that we stand for in this Department.
With this year’s theme - “At the Crossroads of Freedom and Equality: The Emancipation Proclamation and the March on Washington” -- we remember two inflection points in America’s history: the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863, and the March on Washington which occurred a century later.
We salute the remarkable contributions of numerous leaders like President Lincoln and President Kennedy who refused to accept an unjust status quo; of the preachers like Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Reverend Ralph Abernathy; of the countless activists like Rosa Parks and Congressmen John Lewis who in the face of bigotry and violence, called upon our nation to live up to its fundamental ideals of liberty and equality; and of Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall and authors like Maya Angelou who have helped to build and grow our nation’s legal and cultural institutions.
Although their efforts, and the tremendous sacrifices they made, have ushered in meaningful and measurable progress, it’s clear that there is still more to do. Which is why today’s event also serves as an important reminder that the work of building a more perfect union – one that reflects the values and principles enshrined in our nation’s founding documents - is ongoing.
I’m proud to report that the Justice Department’s efforts to expand opportunity for all people, to safeguard the fundamental infrastructure of our democracy, and to protect the most vulnerable among us, has never been more effective. And that our commitment to advancing this work has never been stronger.
This morning, as we honor our nation’s past, we are fortunate to be joined by a trailblazer in this work and a leader in the law enforcement community and certainly within the Department of Justice – Chairman Isaac Fulwood, Jr., of the U.S. Parole Commission.
Mr. Fulwood has served on the U.S. Parole Commission since November 2004, after he was appointed by President George W. Bush. President Barack Obama promoted Mr. Fulwood to Chairman of the Commission in May 2009.
A native of Washington, Chairman Fulwood joined the Washington D.C police in 1964. He went on to spend 29 years as a law enforcement officer in DC, including three years as chief of police (1989-1992). As Chair of the Parole Commission, he has been committed to the Department’s initiative to improve re-entry and a passionate supporter of our task force to help drug-endangered children.
As Chairman Fulwood knows well, Black History Month is about more than recounting achievements and heeding the lessons of the past. It is also an invitation to engage new partners in our efforts, to move our nation forward, and to ensure that it continues to grow to be consistent with our hopes for its future.
Ladies and Gentlemen, please join me in welcoming, Chairman Isaac Fulwood, Jr. of the U.S. Parole Commission.