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 Black history has been a gradual ascent from the lowest rungs of society during slavery to the highest. When we think of black history, we often think of the civil rights movement, John Brown's violent protests, the Underground Railroad. But black history does not end with a single event. It's still being done every day.

Even in the past ten years, tremendous strides have been made in the highest government positions by notable and highly qualified Black Americans who make us all proud of the contributions they make to America. Colin Powell was an accomplished general who demonstrated with quiet dignity and authority that he could lead many men into battle. He was rewarded for his valiant efforts to eventually rise to the highest levels of government as President Bush's Secretary of State in his first administration. In all halls of government and wherever Secretary Powell served, he was treated with the respect and honor he deserved for having served his country so well.

Following the honorable service of Colin Powell, an equally distinguished public servant, a black woman named Condoleezza Rice. It was a proud day when she walked into that office to show how far America was from the days when black people couldn't eat at the same restaurants as white people or drink from the same fountains. And his service has been equally distinguished, meeting heads of state from Africa to Europe, the Middle East to South America and achieving great accomplishments throughout his career.

These two black Americans are true examples of Dr. King's vision of people recognized not by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. Their excellence as leaders and the incredible resumes they have brought to their work are a huge inspiration to black boys and girls in school that they too can rise in this society and go as far as they want. if they let their natural gifts and skills come to the surface. They don't need a government program or special help to be successful. America still has a lot to do, but Dr. Rice and General Powell are examples that the system can reward black people for excellence and will not overlook the contributions they can make to America's future.

And now we come to that part of black history that is yet to come. The future is a part of black history that has yet to be written. And we are witnessing another excellent black leader preparing to be considered for the highest position of power in the country, perhaps in the world, the presidency of the United States. And as with General Powell and Dr. Rice, Barrack Obama will not be judged as a black man or in the context of the racial struggle in this country. He is already admired and praised for his leadership, his eloquence and his ability to bring a new vision to this country. It is a proud day for all of black America to see Barrack Obama being considered for this position. He will have to work hard and be judged on his talents, skills, experience and ability to lead. But it is a testament to how far the country has come that it has as good a chance of winning this election as any other candidate. And if he wins, he'll break down one more barrier for black people and in all of African American society, kids can say, there's nothing I can't do if I try hard. And that's the vision that every leader of the civil right since the Civil War has wanted for black people in America.