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By Robert G. Stanton, Expert Member, Advisory Council on Historic Preservation and former National Park Service Director

February is African American History Month, an opportunity to pause in our busy schedules to show gratitude for the contributions our ancestors made, through their courage, sacrifice, leadership, and hard work, that advanced the liberties and freedoms we enjoy today. Over the course of this month, we can educate a wider audience about those contributions. African American History Month not only helps African Americans understand their own heritage but gives all Americans a better understanding of the role of African Americans in our nation’s rich and diverse history.

An essay by Robert Stanton, Expert Member of the Advisory Council on History Preservation and former Director of the National Park Service.

African American History Month has special meaning to me. As a son of the segregated South, I was 23 years of age before I was permitted to walk through the front door of a small cafe where my mother worked as a short-order cook, and I was bused 30 miles round trip each day for high school under the doctrine of “separate but equal.” Growing up, I could never imagine the opportunities I had in my lifetime that were made possible from the sacrifices and struggles of those who came before me. One of these giants to whom I am and shall remain grateful is Mr. Frederick Douglass.