Statement by Secretary Kathleen Sebelius on African American History Month

HHS: February 3, 2014


Today, we celebrate the beginning of African American History Month, a time for all Americans to recognize the countless contributions African Americans have made to our nation, including major advances in scientific research and public health.

During African American History Month, we draw inspiration from the courage of trailblazers like Dr. Rebecca Lee Crumpler, the first African-American woman in our nation’s history to receive a M.D. degree. In the face of seemingly insurmountable odds, Crumpler overcame the deeply entrenched discrimination of her time and in 1864 graduated from New England Medical College.

We also honor the legacy of innovators like Dr. George Washington Carver, who earned global recognition in the early 20th century for his groundbreaking research in the fields of agriculture and nutrition. A brilliant scientist, Dr. Carver used his skills to help the most vulnerable in society, educating poor farmers on ways to cultivate alternative crops that would yield more abundant and nutritious harvests.

This year, we will commemorate the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, a critical turning point in the fight against racial segregation and discrimination.  As we reflect on how far we have come, we also recognize that there is much work to do.

This administration has made reducing the long standing disparities in health care in the African American community a top priority. African Americans suffer from higher rates of a range of illnesses as compared to the general population, yet are 55 percent more likely to be uninsured than white Americans. read more