Experience African-American History Month, a multicultural endeavor

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. Eric Chapital
  • 4th Fighter Wing program manager
African-American Heritage Month is upon us with its associated events and programs. This year's theme, "The History of Black Economic Empowerment," intends to enlighten and educate us all on the contributions of African-Americans in terms of the economic strength of the United States. Now considered a pillar of our national strategy, economic power is, and has always been, heavily impacted by a robust free enterprise system benefiting from the efforts of all Americans.

In February, we'd like to concentrate specifically on the efforts of African-Americans. These efforts are constantly underestimated and misunderstood due to misperceptions and stereotypes which often reside in the idea that most African-Americans live in poverty and rely heavily on social programs for survival. The source of these fallacies is the fact that little is published and less is known about the entrepreneurial spirit and incredible perseverance of African-American business owners, inventors and professionals -- past, present and future. Remarkably, these misrepresentations are perpetuated in all communities, especially the African-American community.

With this in mind, the heritage committee has developed goals to allow us all to address and inform our great Seymour Johnson family about African-American economic empowerment. Our goals include having multicultural involvement in all events, exposure of the entire Seymour Johnson population to economic empowerment facts and a message of fiscal awareness throughout the month, hoping it continues throughout the year.

In order to properly address fallacies, the first step is to remove communication barriers. We must allow ourselves to consider the experiences and circumstances of others as it pertains to economic status and financial understanding. We should never dwell on the past, but always reflect on it to avoid making the same mistakes and developing the same mentalities that fueled past oppressions and present frustrations.

At face value, one would assume I am requesting only our Caucasian brothers- and sisters-in-arms remove barriers. Nothing is further from the truth. These barriers are present in all communities, particularly the African-American community, and must be removed to progress. With this said, it is equally important to recognize the fact that it was a multicultural effort that defeated oppression and "opened doors." Many business efforts were backed by non- African-American financiers who recognized the importance of introducing prosperity to all Americans and providing the opportunities often denied strictly because of race. We all need each other to survive and continue to flourish as the world's superpower.

As we proceed through February, the entire Seymour Johnson community is invited to attend all events with nothing in mind but to learn and understand. It's through knowledge and respect that we can objectively look at the past and optimistically look toward the future as we reflect on "The History of Black Economic Empowerment" -- a foundation of pride and a roadmap for the future endeavors of a community, and of a nation. African-American History Month is here and should be a multicultural experience.

Events scheduled in celebration of African-American History Month are as follows:
-- Gospel Fest, 7 p.m., Feb.5 at the base chapel
-- Knowledge Bowl, 9 a.m., Feb. 20 at Dillard Middle School
-- Fashion show, 9 p.m., Feb. 20 at the Community Center
-- African-American Heritage luncheon, 11:30 a.m., Feb. 26 at the Community Center

For more information, call Capt. Marvin Dobbs, 722-5433; Senior Master Sgt. Willie Lester, 722-1211; Master Sgt. Elfreda Williams, 722-1184; or James Lewis, 722-2505.