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African-American History Month Celebration

Thursday, February 27, 2020

Remarks As Prepared for Delivery by
U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine L. Chao
American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials 
2020 Washington Briefing 
Washington, DC
Wednesday, February 26, 2020 


Thank you, FTA Associate Administrator Henrika Buchanan.  Welcome everyone, to the Department’s 2020 celebration of African American History Month!  Let me also thank our Emcee, Charles James. Director of the Department’s Office of Civil Rights.  And special thanks to Dr. Chelsey Green, for her magnificent rendition of the Star-Spangled Banner, as well as the Joint Armed Forces Color Guard of the Military District of Washington.  And let me acknowledge Noel Jamieson, Chair of this year’s planning committee, FAA Assistant Administrator and Retired Rear Admiral Anne B. Andrews, as well as everyone who worked so hard to put this event together. 

Let me give a special shout out to the students here today from the Ron Brown College Preparatory High School, and their principal-- Dr. Benjamin Williams--as well as students from the TransSTEM Academy at the Cardozo Education Campus, and from the Horton’s Kids program in Wellington Park.  We are so glad to have you here!  During my tenure as Secretary, we have tried to expand and enlarge this event to convey our deep respect and admiration for the contributions of African-Americans to our country’s history and culture.

That’s why I am so excited to welcome our two very special speakers today: the Deputy Surgeon General of the United States, Rear Admiral Erica Schwartz; and, the Executive Director of the White House Opportunity and Revitalization Council, the Honorable Scott Turner. 

Both of these distinguished Americans have made outstanding contributions to our country:  Admiral Schwartz as a physician, and both a military and public health leader; and Director Turner as a world-class athlete, successful businessman and former member of the Texas House of Representatives.    

I am a believer in the value of STEM education: science, technology, engineering, and math.  There are such abundant opportunities in these fields.  And, we need to do more to ensure greater diversity in these important professions.  That’s why this afternoon, I am delighted to announce that the U. S. Department of Transportation signed a partnership agreement with the Ron Brown High School to help increase the number of African-Americans in transportation careers, which emphasize STEM skills.  And that’s why today, we extended a special invitation to students from all over D.C. who are interested in STEM education.  There are exciting exhibits in the back on drone simulation and robotics of the future!  We want you to be inspired!  The Department is also currently recruiting college students for paid 2020 summer internships.  Applications are being accepted until March 10th.  You can find out more at   I hope you will help us get the word out!

As we celebrate the achievements of African Americans, we will always remember their contributions to our country.    And, now let’s get started!