'Thank you, Reverend [Barry] Black, for continuing to guide our path with the light of the Holy Word, and for your long service to our nation.
'One hundred and forty two years ago on these grounds, President Abraham Lincoln delivered his stirring Second Inaugural Address.
'That morning, the skies rained and wind whipped against the Capitol's recently completed cast iron dome. Despite the weather, a tremendous crowd filled the East Front. As one observer noted, African Americans comprised half their number.
'Many of the audience came in their 'old clothes' due to the inclement weather and the muddy streets of
'That is because, for African Americans,
'Even considering the challenges that remained ahead,
'We also pause to remember the courage of nine African American students who, on this day 50 years ago, made a powerful statement through the simple act of entering a schoolhouse door in
'This week, as we approach the annual CBC Legislative Conference, we celebrate the historic achievements and powerful advocacy of the Congressional Black Caucus, which remains the conscience of the Congress.
'We are thankful for the leadership of CBC Chair Carolyn Kilpatrick and CBC Foundation Chair Kendrick Meek, for their commitment to this organization's values, and for their focus on the future.
'We are grateful to Majority Whip James Clyburn and Senior Chief Deputy Whip John Lewis for bringing the CBC's most deeply held values to the leadership of the House.
'And we recall the victories made possible by talented committee leaders like Chairman Charles Rangel of the Ways and Means Committee, Chairman John Conyers of the Judiciary Committee, Chairman Bennie Thompson of the Homeland Security Committee, and Chairwoman Stephanie Tubbs Jones of the Ethics Committee.
'This week, as the Congressional Black Caucus lays the groundwork for future progress, Leader Reid and I also join you in celebration of the CBC's monumental achievements.
'We stand with you as partners in our continued progress toward a nation that is more respectful, more inclusive, and more true to the values of the CBC - a nation that is truly a more perfect union.
'Thank you, God bless you, and may