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Home : News : News
NEWS | Feb. 3, 2021

Black History Month -- The Kitchen Table: Reflections on the past, visions for the future

By Rachel Kersey 502nd Air Base Wing Public Affairs

Joint Base San Antonio joins the millions of Americans celebrating Black History Month 2021 by honoring the history of African Americans in the military and considering ways to move forward in unity for the future.

“Black History Month makes me reflect on all the milestones and wonderful things that Black people have done to make life better for Americans,” said Chief Master Sgt. Wendell Snider, Joint Base San Antonio and 502nd Air Base Wing command chief. “I realize that I am standing on the shoulders of giants, and I would not be where I am today if it was not for those that came before me.”

Charles A. Anderson, an African-American Air Force veteran born in 1934, remembers a world where a man like Snider could not rise to his rank in the service.

“I know President Truman said, ‘I want our military integrated,’ but we weren’t even close to an integrated Air Force at that point in time,” he said.

Anderson enlisted in 1954. He recalled training to be a firefighter, but was abruptly moved to work in food service. When he was later selected to move overseas to be a firefighter, some members of his leadership were not happy.

“[My new leader] said, ‘We didn’t ask for you,’ and I said, ‘All I know is I have orders that I’m to report to this detachment,’” Anderson said. “Oh, he was furious. Being African-American affected your career path.”

Anderson remembered a number of racially motivated brawls in the segregated dormitories and in his personal home in Hawaii.

“I see all these Black chiefs, I see these full colonels, and I’m looking at the evolution of what has transpired since I was in uniform,” Anderson said. “I never would have believed it, but here it is.”

In a short series of video interviews, Anderson and Snider discuss the progress the military has made toward racial reconciliation, as well as the work that remains.

“I have been serving my country for more than two decades now, and it has been the greatest honor of my life to serve in the military and to protect this great nation,” Snider said. “I believe in America and what America stands for, so it troubles me to see how some have regressed back to a mindset that is not helpful to where we need to be going as a nation.”

“Our country is split and we have to ask why,” Anderson added. “It goes back to the kitchen table; it starts way back then.”

Anderson said having knowledge of history is essential, especially the history of family values shared around the kitchen table. He urges Americans to investigate the historical roots of the division in our nation.

“Go back to the kitchen table, right where mothers and fathers and grandpas talk about the country they live in and where they want to go, because everybody says we want a more perfect union, but we have a lot of work to do,” he said.

“This is real to me,” Snider said. “I find myself more protective of my family because I want to make sure my family is taken care of. It’s important for me to do my best to create the right environment, the right world, so that when my son grows up, he can do great things by his work ethic and his character.”

Both men hope all services continue to evaluate ways to make the military a more equitable community.

“I think we need to continue to have more tough conversations, and I think we need to continue to find ways to improve communication down and across the chain,” Snider concluded.

Keep an eye out for Black History Month videos featuring Snider, Anderson and others posted on Joint Base San Antonio’s Facebook page this month at