Note: This is the text of a lecture delivered at Henry Ford College in Dearborn, Michigan in honor of African American History Month on February 8, 2017. The program was sponsored by the campus African American Association, the Diversity Club and the Office of Student Activities.
I want to extend my appreciation for this invitation to speak once again at Henry Ford College during African American History Month. This is by far one of the most diverse higher educational institutions in the southeastern Michigan and we need to work very hard to ensure that it remains as such.
We are facing some of the most challenging times within the last two generations. The advent of the present administration in Washington, D.C. is merely a reflection of a much deeper crisis in how notions of representative government, democracy and the social contract are interpreted within United States society.
Since January 20, the U.S. and the international community have witnessed unprecedented opposition through demonstrations, rallies, commentaries and cultural expressions. Inevitably these protest actions will continue until either the people are convinced of their futility or that these manifestations can succeed in winning the objectives of a free and just system that can provide for the needs of the least fortunate among us.
The Significance of African American History
America has never been a great democratic country in its 240 years of existence. Prior to the Declaration of Independence in 1776, there were thirteen colonies controlled by the British.
Nonetheless, other European powers were also seeking dominance over what is now known as North America. France and Spain also had substantial colonies in this region of the Western Hemisphere where they sought to take control of the land and resources of the indigenous people of North America.