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NEWS | Feb. 5, 2010

African American Heritage Month kicks off

By Mike Joseph 502nd Air Base Wing OL-A Public Affairs

Three new events have been added this year to Team Lackland's February celebration of African American Heritage Month, which kicked off earlier this week.

Month-long activities started Feb. 1 with opening ceremonies at the Wilford Hall Medical Center auditorium. Activities continued throughout the week with a reading event for children at the Child Development Center Feb. 3 and a proclamation at City Hall Feb. 4. This year's theme is "History of Black Economic Empowerment."

New to the schedule are a youth basketball clinic, 3-on-3 basketball tournament and burger burn.

The free clinic is Feb. 12 at the youth center, 4:30-7:30 p.m., and the tournament, whose proceeds will go into the African American Cultural Association scholarship fund, is Feb. 20. The burger burn fundraiser is Feb. 13.

"We have so many youth at Lackland we want to support because that's what our forefathers did," said Senior Master Sgt. Richard Johnson, program coordinator for the African American Heritage Committee.

"Those before us tried to make it better for the next person and that's what we want to do," he said. "We want to make it better for everyone in the Lackland community."

A free gospel concert Saturday night at the Gateway Chapel, 8-10 p.m., starts a series of events over the next two weeks.

"The performers are going to pour their heart into it," said Sergeant Johnson. "It's an opportunity to hear some good music, have a good time and encourage our young Airmen."

Maj. Gen. Mary Kay Hertog, 2nd Air Force commander, is the keynote speaker at the African American Heritage Committee luncheon Wednesday at the Gateway Club. The committee anticipates a sellout crowd of 300 at the luncheon. Only advanced tickets will be sold.

Another free event is the soul food taste at Fisher House on Feb. 18, 6 p.m., that also serves to support families of injured servicemembers.

"We'll be able to feed families who stay at Fisher House while their ill loved ones are at Wilford Hall," Sergeant Johnson said. "It lets them know we're thinking about them."

Another fundraiser is planned for Feb. 20, 8 p.m., at the Bob Hope Performing Arts Theater. A fashion show, featuring acts and fashions from the '70s through present day, includes singing, impersonations, modeling and selected readings.

"It's going to be a good time and a lot of fun," said Sergeant Johnson.

Tickets for the fashion show are $10 advance and $12 at the door. Contact Staff Sgt. Jennifer Brown at 671-3077 for advance sales.

Chief Master Sgt. Juan Lewis, 502nd Air Base Wing command chief, will deliver the keynote address at the month's final event on Feb. 27, its annual scholarship banquet at the Gateway Club.

The committee's goal that evening is to give five $1,000 scholarships to Department of Defense graduating seniors in the San Antonio area. The scholarship money comes from fundraisers and donations.

Sergeant Johnson said one of the group's goals has been to follow the footprints of AAHC president Shirley Jones, a long-time committee member.

"We want to keep the tradition Momma Jones has put in place," he said. "We're all trying to step up, not miss a beat and make her proud."