During the month of February we honor the contributions of African Americans who have immeasurably enriched our nation’s political, educational, cultural and economic fabric, and who have continually helped to perfect our union since its inception.

Here in Florida, we salute the African American pioneers who knocked down so many doors to opportunity for future generations. From those who have served honorably in our armed forces, like General Daniel “Chappie” James Jr., to phenomenal women such as Mary McLeod Bethune who spent her life working to advance the causes of African American women and children, and visionary writers and artists like Zora Neale Hurston, we are all grateful.

The state of Florida and our nation, thanks in no small part to African Americans, has made enormous strides in bending the arc of history towards justice, but we know we have much more work to do when voting rights are under assault, when law enforcement and communities of color do not trust one another in many of our cities, and when African American women still make 61 cents to a white man’s dollar here in Florida, far worse than the already deplorable national average of 64 cents.

This month we celebrate the indelible impact and achievements of our African American brothers and sisters, but the struggle for justice, opportunity and equality for all continues.