Public Statements & Remarks

Remarks of Chairman J. Christopher Giancarlo at the Black History Month Celebration

February 6, 2018

Good morning and welcome.

It was almost 50 years ago, in March 1968, that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., gave his last Sunday sermon before his martyrdom. It was here in Washington, just a few blocks away at the National Cathedral.

The title of that sermon was “Remaining Awake through a Great Revolution.” Dr. King, saw that we were living through an age of vast technological change. He spoke of automation and cybernation…and other products of our scientific ingenuity.

Yet, we needed a spiritual revolution to accompany technology. He said, “Through our scientific and technological genius … we have not had the ethical commitment to make of (our world) a brotherhood.”

That was his message: we need that ethical commitment. Because, he continued: “We are tied together in the single garment of destiny, caught in an inescapable network of mutuality. And whatever affects one directly affects all indirectly.”

We recall that inescapable mutuality today. During Black History Month, we recognize the central role of African Americans in U.S. history and our vast debt of gratitude. A debt of gratitude, indeed. There have been achievements in every aspect, in every part of life. And, we celebrate monumental figures, like Dr. King, who fought to extend the promise of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution to all Americans.

The theme for 2018 is “African Americans in Times of War.” What a theme this will be: There is so much to cover from Black militiamen in the Revolutionary battles on Bunker and Breeds Hills, to USCT troops in the Civil War’s Appomattox Campaign, to the 10th Cavalry charging up San Juan Hill to Harlem’s Hellfighters threatening German lines in World War I to the celebrated Tuskegee Airmen of World War II and on through the heroism of African American GIs in Vietnam and sacrifices of both men and women in modern wars in the Gulf and the middle east. So many distinguished stories to tell. For example, more than 100 of the Harlem Hellfighters received either American or French medals.

This year’s program commemorates the centennial of the end of the First World War in 1918, and explores the complex meanings and implications of this international struggle and its aftermath. The First World War was initially termed by many as “The Great War” or “The War to End All Wars.” Yet, it only planted the seeds for further conflict, even in the present day.

The speaker this morning is Mr. John W. Franklin, Senior Manager in the Office of External Affairs, at the National Museum of African American History and Culture. It is an honor to introduce him. He is an enviable scholar who has worked on African American, African, and African Diaspora programs for the past 30 years at the Smithsonian Institution.

His background reveals a depth of knowledge and a steadfast personal commitment. Mr. Franklin has:

  • served on the Maryland Commission on African American History and Culture from 1998 to 2008;
  • the board of the Reginald Lewis Maryland Museum of African American History and Culture from 2000 to 2009;
  • the Board of Governors of the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies from 2005-2011;
  • the Washington, D.C. Commission on African American Affairs from 2010-2013; and
  • currently on the D.C. Commission on Emancipation.

Mr. Franklin’s scholarship is a family heritage; scholarship is genetic, part of his DNA. His father was John Hope Franklin, one of the most famous scholars of the African American Experience, best known for his landmark book, “From Slavery to Freedom,” (a book I read in college). Among his many awards, the late John Hope Franklin received more than 100 honorary degrees and the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Mr. Franklin is a scholar of equal renown and insight. It is an honor to host him here at the CFTC. Please join me in welcoming Mr. John Franklin.


Last Updated: February 6, 2018