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NEWS | Feb. 1, 2017

JBSA recognizes African American History Month

By Airman 1st Class Lauren Parsons 502nd Air Base Wing Public Affairs

In recognition of African American History Month, Joint Base San Antonio is slated to hold an event from 11 a.m. to noon Feb. 15 at the Blesse Auditorium, building 2841, at JBSA-Fort Sam Houston.

The event is hosted by the 470th Military Intelligence Brigade and the theme, “Success Always Leaves Footprints,” will recognize key figures from African American history such as Booker T. Washington, the Little Rock Nine and Mary McLeod Bethune, among others.

“African American History Month is a time for recognizing the central role African Americans have played in our nation's history,” U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Kim Benzel, 470th Military Intelligence Brigade Equal Opportunity advisor, said. “This year's observance will honor pioneers in African American education and the contributions of African Americans to our society and culture.”

Dr. Kevin Cokley, University of Texas at Austin professor of African and African Diaspora Studies and Educational Psychology, will be the guest speaker.

According to the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH), founded by Carter G. Woodson, the origins of African American History Month began with Woodson. Carter, a graduate of the University of Chicago, was inspired by the celebration of the fiftieth anniversary of emancipation in Illinois in 1915. Shortly after, he formed the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History and established The Journal of Negro History in 1916.

Woodson encouraged African American civic organizations and his fraternity brothers to promote the achievements of African Americans that researchers were uncovering. He later decided the association would shoulder this task and sent a press release announcing Negro History Week in February 1926.

Throughout the years, Negro History Week grew larger on college campuses and aided in efforts to expand the study of African American history to the curriculum in schools. In 1976, fifty years following the original celebration, the ASALH succeeded in shifting it from a week to a month. Since then, every U.S. president has officially designated February as African American History Month.

Tech. Sgt. Malik Buchanan, NCO in charge of Equal Opportunity at JBSA-Randolph, said it’s important for the United States and Department of Defense to recognize observances like African American History Month.

“It’s a chance for everybody to learn the different contributions that this particular demographic that’s being recognized has given to American society,” Buchanan said.

The event is open to all DoD cardholders. For more information, contact 221-0417.

To learn more about African American History Month, visit the Defense Equal Opportunity Management Institute.