DCM David Burger’s Opening Remarks at American Spaces Black History Month Screening of Emancipation Road: 1963-1968 – The Civil Rights Era

Monday, February 14, 2022, 6:00 p.m.

As Prepared

Thank you, Dimitris.  It’s an honor to join all of you tonight to watch this important documentary about the Civil Rights Movement in the United States as part of the U.S. Embassy’s activities celebrating Black History Month.

I would first like to congratulate all the American Spaces teams for the great work you are doing.  Your efforts are paying off, and the American Spaces network keeps expanding, with the sixth one in Thessaloniki officially opening this year in partnership with the non-profit organization EduAct.

I am also very proud of the wide variety of activities our American Spaces around Greece have organized this year to celebrate Black History Month, whether that’s online presentations for schools, film showings like we’re having this evening, or developing lesson plans highlighting Black History for English language teachers.

As you all know, February is a very important month for us in which we celebrate the contributions of Black Americans throughout U.S. history.  It’s a powerful reminder of the responsibility we all have to tirelessly work to fight systemic racism that, unfortunately, remains very much a part of our societies today.  By remembering and honoring our history, I hope we can pave the way towards a better future for everyone.

As President Biden has said, “Democracy is an ongoing struggle to live up to our highest ideals and to heal our divisions.”  I couldn’t agree more.  Democracy can, at times, be fragile, but it is also inherently resilient.

Greece and the United States share a history as democracies that have faced significant challenges.  For the United States, perhaps no challenge has been greater than to reconcile our loftiest principles with the enslavement of human beings and the legacy of segregation, racist violence, and discrimination.

The legacy is still with us today, challenging our progress.  That’s why it is now more important than ever to remain vigilant in our commitment to fight against discrimination and voices of intolerance.  It is our duty to future generations to recommit to our founding values, to engage in difficult dialogue and cultivate a culture of inclusivity.

None can deny that the journey towards social justice is long.  We should look to the profound moral courage and resilience of Black Americans and build upon it in our efforts to become stronger nations.

And that’s why we’re here today.  The Emancipation Road documentary examines the protests and demonstrations that took place throughout the Civil Rights Movement.  It also sheds a light on the prominent figures that contributed immensely to the ending of segregation in the United States.

I very much look forward to watching it with you and hearing your thoughts afterwards.

Efcharisto poli.