US flag Official website of the Department of Homeland Security

Archived Content

In an effort to keep CBP.gov current, the archive contains content from a previous administration or is otherwise outdated.

Journalist Roland Martin Headlines Headquarters Black History Event

Release Date: 
February 25, 2011

What African Americans have achieved often highlights Black History Month events, but one celebrity speaker challenged today's Americans to answer, "What will they say about you 50 years from now?"

After his talk, Martin signed autographs and spoke to attendees.

After his talk, Martin signed autographs and spoke to attendees.

Photo Credit:Donna Burton

"It's a crucial question," said award-winning journalist and author Roland Martin, and by answering it you can learn "how you can be a difference-maker, just where you are."

Martin charged hundreds of federal employees in his audience to assess their own roles in history at yesterday's celebration in Washington, D.C., sponsored by several federal agencies, including U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

He pointed to the trailblazing people who did great things, but for whom making history was never their intention. He also highlighted the people who were not in the news, but made change happen "all because they said, 'I want this world to be a different place for my children, and I want America to live up to its promise.'"

When we talk about black history, "it really boils down to the nameless, faceless folks who were indeed the difference makers," said Martin. He added that all of us need to ask, "If we're going to have a different America, what role do I have to play in breaking down the barriers that exist in this world?"

Martin spoke to employees from CBP and other federal agencies about how today's actions are tomorrow's black history.

Martin spoke to employees from CBP and other federal agencies about how today's actions are tomorrow's black history.

Photo Credit:Donna Burton

"This is not a third-person conversation," he emphasized.

He dared the audience to consider, "What will they say about the moments that I spent with Customs and Border Protection? Was I somebody who sat here and said nothing and did nothing, or will they say, 'that person made a difference while they were here.'?"

It requires for everyone, of every race, to say when they see injustice, "that's not right, that's not fair," he said.

Federal employees filled the large Department of Commerce auditorium for the program, which was sponsored by Commerce, the Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Agency for International Development and CBP. He also spoke earlier in the week to a CBP Black History Month gathering in Indianapolis.

Martin's speech followed performances by the Georgetown University Gospel Choir and the Hamilton Academy Step Team.

Last modified: 
February 8, 2017