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Message from Assistant Secretary for Aging Kathy Greenlee on National African American History Month, February 2011

I join President Obama in recognizing February as National African-American History Month in recognition of the contributions to our nation made by people of African descent.

African Americans of all ages have helped to shape this nation’s past and present, and will continue to do so in the future. African Americans are the second largest minority population in our country, and this population is expected to grow significantly in the coming years. The African American population 65 and older numbered 3.3 million in 2009 and is projected to grow to more than 9.9 million by 2050. The Administration on Aging (AoA) jointly with the National Aging Network’s full complement of community-based organizations works hard to implement services mandated in the Older Americans Act to ensure that all older Americans, including African American elders, are able to age with dignity and to remain an integral part of their families and communities for as long as possible. In 2009 with support from the Administration on Aging, the network provided services to a total of 11 million persons age 60 and over. 11% of the recipients of those community-based services were non-Hispanic African American elders.

The passage of the Affordable Care Act in March 2010 provides AoA with more opportunities to expand its responsibility to work to improve the health status of African Americans. Throughout this year and next, AoA CLASS (Office of Community Living Assistance Services and Supports) will work to develop a national voluntary insurance program that will give most working adults a new option to pay for services and supports to help them remain independent.

AoA recognizes that a significant number of African American elders have at least one chronic condition and many have multiple conditions. We will continue to seek out partnerships with agencies at the Federal, state and local levels and with community organizations and advocacy groups that promote good health and quality independent living for elder African Americans and all older Americans.

As we celebrate National African American History Month, we celebrate the achievements, proud history and rich culture of African Americans. To read the President’s proclamation, please visit