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Black History Month: A time to celebrate accomplishments past and present

  • Published
  • By Col. Jenise Carroll, 75th Air Base Wing commander

Commentary:  Black History Month, or National African American History Month, provides all Americans a time to celebrate the tremendous achievements made by our African American citizens in building our country and it provides a time for recognizing their central role in shaping U.S. history. 

The brainchild of historian Carter Woodson and other prominent African Americans, President Gerald Ford officially recognized Black History Month in 1976, calling upon the public to “seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of Black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history.”

Since 1976, every U.S. president officially designated the month of February as Black History Month; a great time to honor the legacies of great leaders and pioneers such as Harriet Tubman, Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X and Rosa Parks. 

Today, role models and leaders from this sector make great contributions to our society and culture in aspects of industry, politics, science, culture and other major sections of our American society.

This year’s theme, Black Health and Wellness, points us to those tremendous contributions and breakthroughs of Black health and wellness professionals, the cultural richness of “non-traditional” practitioners, and the efforts made by many to improve wellness for all. 

In this time, we aim not to just acknowledge the past but also look to  commit to building a bright future within the Black communities nationwide.  

Knowing Black History not only helps us recognize systems that produce discriminatory practices and disparate outcomes but it also allows us opportunities to meaningfully change these older structures to enrich us all. Learning more about the specifics of Black history will help shape our efforts of improving diversity and inclusion for all Americans across our nation.

Air Force leaders keep working hard on making progress with expanding the perspectives across all Airmen and Guardians. Hosting and holding comprehensive discussions to share personal life experiences, cultural knowledge, and philosophical & spiritual perspectives can help us achieve our goals of diversity and inclusion.

For 2022, the AFMC Mentoring drive pushes a greater focus on mentorship for diverse populations within the command.  It focuses on ensuring all Airmen/Guardians can choose to engage in a professional mentoring relationship regardless of race, gender, ethnicity, religion and more.

This renewed effort on a long-standing mentoring program highlights additional opportunities to emphasize the contributions of diverse groups on the success of the Air Force throughout its existence.

In closing, I ask all to take a moment this month to reflect on Black history and meaningfully consider the contributions and legacy of African Americans, both past and present, made across U.S. history and our society.