SEYMOUR JOHNSON AIR FORCE BASE, N.C. --
Members of Team Seymour reflect on the importance of African American history during this year’s Black History Month.
February is the month to observe and honor “Black History” as a whole. It began as “Negro History Month” in 1926 by Carter G. Woodson, a noted African American historian, scholar, educator and publisher. It is held in February in honor of the birthdays of Frederick Douglas, an African-American social reformer and abolitionist, and Abraham Lincoln, 16th President of the United States who signed the emancipation proclamation freeing more than three million black slaves in the United States.
The African American Heritage Committee at Seymour Johnson held a luncheon in honor of Black History Month as well as a 5K run with static displays of information and facts on historic African Americans along the 2-mile trail.
Former Goldsboro, North Carolina mayor, Alfonzo King was the guest speaker at the luncheon. King has made many contributions to not only the Air Force and Seymour Johnson, but also to the local community. He retired from the Air Force in 1976 after serving more than 20 years. In November 2001, King was appointed mayor, and since then has been awarded numerous awards, including Downtown Goldsboro Development Corporation Lifetime Achievement Award.
Staff Sgt. Krystale Thomas, vice president of the African American Heritage Committee, said this month is important to her because it reminds her of the fight her ancestors fought for equality.
“It’s the positives of diversity,” said Thomas. “It allows the community and their families to understand and see how much we have transformed and overcome as one, not just the road blocks of ‘blacks’ but the road blocks of this union. Though there are many struggles left to address and overcome, we as a community have learned to stand together and this month proves that.”
Along with the many positive changes that have occurred throughout the years, there have been many breakthroughs in the Air Force as well. One of the most notable times in history was the formation of the Tuskegee Airmen, the first black servicemen who became aviators during World War II. Their success helped pave the way for the integration of the armed forces under President Harry Truman in 1948.
Another memorable African American figure in the military community is Barack Obama, former president. He announced his candidacy for the Democratic Party in 2008. He then made history by becoming the first African American president in 2009. Since then, he expanded protections for victims of hate crimes, passed a healthcare reform, and much more.
Tech. Sgt. Aron Lee, 4th Communications Squadron unit training manager, said diversity is very important in today’s Air Force because it allows different perspectives from different people.
“It’s so much easier and so much more advantageous to have those different perspectives,” said Lee. “Black History month allows us to see that. I always say the first two weeks are considered black history month, but the next two weeks are African American future month; how does what’s going on right now impact your future. It’s all about education. If you don’t know where you’ve been, then you won’t know where you’re going. If you don’t plan for the future you’ll never get there.”
Black History is a part of the past, present and future. It is a part of history that helps grow a nation.
“This month is important because it is held to remind us of the opportunities and positions that are available to all, and to educate people on the battles that were fought for the freedom we have now,” said Thomas. “All due to the selfless acts of African Americans before us. It draws up the conversation of being able to achieve anything in life as long as you work for it.”
“Success Always Leaves Footprints.”