Home News Speeches At the Crossroads of Freedom and Equality
  • Robert S. Mueller, III
  • Director
  • Federal Bureau of Investigation
  • FBI National Black History Month Program
  • Washington, D.C.
  • February 13, 2013

Remarks prepared for delivery.

Good morning. Thank you all for being here. My thanks to Dave and Tonya and to the Diversity and Inclusion Section for organizing today’s program.

We gather in this auditorium each year to mark Black History Month and the many accomplishments of black Americans. Because of those accomplishments—because of the courage and the conviction of those who came before us—today our nation celebrates diversity. So, too, does the FBI.

Those who work alongside you bring different histories, different heritages, and different perspectives to the table. But these differences do not divide us—they bring us together…they make us stronger.

We are proud of this diverse workforce—one that reflects the varied communities that we serve and that is able to better understand the needs of those communities. It is this diversity that allows us to protect the American people and to safeguard the rule of law and the protections guaranteed by the Constitution.

This year’s theme—“At the Crossroads of Freedom and Equality”—celebrates two anniversaries in our nation’s history.

One hundred and fifty years ago—on January 1, 1863—President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, paving the way for the total abolition of slavery in the United States.

Lincoln has been much in the public mind of late, with Steven Spielberg’s latest movie. Yet in Lincoln’s day, no one could have imagined the impact his leadership—and his commitment to freedom and to equality—would have on all of us as individuals, and as a nation.

One hundred years after President Lincoln issued his proclamation, hundreds of thousands of people joined in the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom—one of the largest political rallies for human rights in our country’s history.

On August 28, 1963, at the foot of the Lincoln Memorial, Dr. Martin Luther King spoke to those assembled about a dream—a dream for racial harmony, a dream for freedom and equality. And history again marched forward.

Just a few months before the March on Washington, our distinguished guest speaker took part in another march organized by Dr. King—the Children’s March—in Birmingham, Alabama.

Freeman Hrabowski—then just 12 years old—was sent to jail by Sheriff Bull Connor. He stayed there for five days for his part in the historic civil rights protest.

That young man would go on to graduate from college at the Hampton Institute at the age of 19, and then earn a masters degree in mathematics and a Ph.D. in higher education administration and statistics—all by the age of 24.

Doctor Hrabowski has served as president of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County—better known as UMBC—since 1992. Last year, President Obama asked him to chair the newly created President’s Advisory Commission on Educational Excellence for African-Americans.

In 2008, he was named one of “America’s Best Leaders” by U.S. News & World Report—the same publication that ranked UMBC the number one up-and-coming university in the nation in 2009, 2010, and 2011.

TIME magazine has named him one of “America’s 10 Best College Presidents” and one of the “100 Most Influential People in the World.” He has been named one of seven “Top American Leaders” by The Washington Post and the Harvard Kennedy School’s Center for Public Leadership.

I could go on enumerating his many accolades, but we would all rather hear from the man himself.

Please join me in welcoming Dr. Freeman Hrabowski

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