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Home : News : News
NEWS | Feb. 19, 2016

JBSA-Fort Sam Houston commemorates Black History Month

BAMC Public Affairs

Brooke Army Medical Center hosted the Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston Black History Month commemoration Feb. 10 at the Fort Sam Houston Theater. This year’s theme was, “Hollowed Grounds: Sites of African American Memories.”

Two Cole Middle School students, Raquelle Bennett and Samuel Swofford, were chosen to read their essays about people who made significant contributions to the history of African Americans. Coincidentally, Samuel’s father, Army Col. Mark Swofford, BAMC deputy commanding officer, provided the opening remarks for the ceremony.

Swofford said it was a “proud parent moment,” as he opened the ceremony pointing out that during these observances we should not only look to the past, but to the future.

“That’s what this theme is about,” he said. “We should honor the sites and the achievements of these prominent individuals from our history, then build on that for the future of this nation.

“All of us are citizens of this nation regardless of our ethnicity, creed, gender or any other term that we would like to pull up,” Swofford said. “Ultimately, we succeed when we are together. Our strength is when we are together instead of divided.”

Swofford introduced the guest speaker, Bexar County Commissioner Tommy Calvert, the youngest and first African-American county commissioner in Bexar County. Calvert grew up on the east side of San Antonio and was raised among the constituents he serves today.

“I never dreamed that I would have a life that would help others achieve their freedom and their goals,” Calvert said. “Now as commissioner I get to help revitalize some of the areas where I grew up and I take it personally what happens in our neighborhood.”

The commissioner said he is working to get new housing and development around the installation, especially at the Walters Street entrance. He also praised the military for their contributions to the community.

“This year’s theme calls for people to examine the history of African Americans and the historic grounds from which they have come,” Calvert said. He cited examples such as Crispus Attucks, the first casualty of the Boston Massacre, who is considered the first casualty in the American Revolution, and the Buffalo Soldiers who originally were members of the U.S. 10th Cavalry Regiment of the U.S. Army.

“God uses ordinary people and ordinary places to make extraordinary experiences, extraordinary advances and extraordinary statements,” Calvert said.

 “You couldn’t choose what race you would be. You couldn’t choose what gender you would be. You couldn’t choose who your parents would be, but the one thing that you can choose is what to do in your life,” the commissioner concluded. “But, you can choose to continue to be a positive person giving back to society, knocking down barriers, making sure that we have a world of freedom, equality and justice for all.”

Members of the Omega Psi Phi Chapter, Antonio Alpha Delta Lamba from the University of Texas at San Antonio also performed and there was a food sampling after the ceremony.