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African American women paving the way

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I am delighted to have this opportunity to recognize all the amazing women who have worked to make this world a better place. Far too often, the contributions of women go unnoticed, and I am thrilled that Congress has designated March Women’s History Month to celebrate the accomplishments of women.

Despite incredible obstacles, African American women have been quietly changing history for hundreds of years. By simply refusing to get up, Rosa Parks helped launch the civil rights movement. Dr. Mae Jemison proved that with hard work you really can touch the stars. Women have been tearing down obstacles and paving the way for other women to realize their dreams since the beginning of time.

Every time I cast my ballot, I think of the many women who fought so hard to give me a voice. We must use that voice to encourage the next generation of female warriors to enter the political arena where they can help preserve and expand the rights we've fought so hard to obtain.

Women like Shirley Chisholm paved the way for a new generation of female leaders by becoming the first women to run for president, and Senator Carol Moseley Braun became this country's first female African American senator.

I would be remiss if I did not acknowledge C. Delores Tucker, the woman who opened the doors of opportunity to allow me to become the chair of the DNC Black Caucus. As the first chair of the DNC Black Caucus, Tucker taught us how to make sure that the voices of all African American women are heard.

As the saying goes, we come a long way, baby, but we have a long way to go. Women still make 77 cents for every dollar paid to men, and Republicans continue to try to take away our right to choose. So we must keep fighting injustice and inequality. It is imperative that we defeat candidates who trivialize the impact of violence against women and put more people like Sonia Sotomayer on the Supreme Court to protect what we have accomplished.

There are a plethora of opportunities waiting for us, if we continue to break down barriers and work toward realizing true equality in our lifetimes.