MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Gov. Mark Dayton has officially declared February to be “Black History Month” in Minnesota.

“We must acknowledge and pay tribute to the generations of individuals who struggled with adversity, risked their lives for justice, fought a fight that at times seemed impossible to win, and continue to fight for equality and the American Dream,” Dayton said.

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“Black History Month encourages all Minnesotans to come together, reflect on our collective past, and reveal its impact on present conditions,” he continued.

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Dayton said he wanted to encourage Minnesotans to reflect on Minnesota’s past and to celebrate the contributions of black citizens in our communities.

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Black History Month has been around, in various forms, for many decades, and was first declared by a sitting U.S. president in 1976 by Gerald Ford.