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Last month, we celebrated the life of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. This month, we celebrate Black History Month.
It is fitting the two celebrations follow one another. It gives us the opportunity to reflect on how one man could make such an impact on the world, and then look at how many others have shaped our country, our history, our lives and our hearts — the teachers, coaches, first responders and community leaders who make our lives richer by being there, being the example and reminding us that our society is unified by our diversity.
We are stronger as one, and understanding each other is a primary basis for celebrating Black History Month. It is important to recognize people who have risen up to make a difference in the past, and it is important to recognize those around us who are doing that every day.
While many may immediately look toward big-name personalities to showcase accomplishments, I believe we should also look toward the local heroes who get little recognition but have such a great impact on their communities. I wish I could name them all, but the reality is that there are so many deserving of recognition.
They are folks like Ken Fontenot, Everrit Hayes and Troy Blackwell, who all heard the call to serve beyond the military and now serve in the ministry and lead in their faith. They’re the leaders I knew in the Navy like Adm. Annie Andrews, Capt. Voressa Booker and Cmdr. Letwa Gooden, who not only set new standards in the Navy, but also are setting the example in the civilian communities where they serve with distinction.
We should all take a few minutes to reflect on the life of an African American in history who made our lives better. We should also take a few minutes to recognize those around us who are making history one person at a time.
Black History Month gives us the opportunity to focus our understanding. It gives us an opportunity to celebrate our heritage as a united people.
The writer is the Republican candidate for N.C. House District 24.