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National African American History Month is a time to celebrate the contributions and solemnly remember the tribulations of one of the most essential pieces to the American story.

When I think of someone that exemplifies this experience, a single name springs to mind: Frederick Douglass.

Douglass escaped from slavery when he was 19 years old and for years lived as a fugitive. Even after he won his freedom and slavery was abolished, he continued to experience racial discrimination, despite his intellect and obvious talent as a speaker.

These experiences gave him every reason to hate America, but instead he became one of the greatest champions of American ideals.

He knew that a government for all must be partial to none.

Douglass is just one of many voices in a community that endured a difficult road to liberty, but never stopped fighting for their right to be recognized as equal Americans.

This month, and all months, we celebrate their stories and remember their perseverance in the fight for freedom.

This painting of Frederick Douglass hangs in my office in the Capitol as a reminder of the struggle African Americans endured in their journey to freedom.

This painting of Frederick Douglass hangs in my office in the Capitol as a reminder of the struggle African Americans endured in their journey to freedom. Douglass’ unyielding hunger for liberty and justice for all Americans is a message to be remembered and celebrated.