By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Geoffrey P. Barham
SASEBO, Japan - Commander, Fleet Activities Sasebo community members celebrated Black History Month with a commemorative event held Feb. 21, 2018.
The Sasebo Multicultural Committee held the event, which carried this year’s Black History Month theme, “African Americans in Times of War.”
“Black history month isn’t just about the hard times,” said Master at Arms 2nd Class Ricky Flowers, Sasebo Multicultural Committee vice president. “It’s about the determination, the integrity and the leadership those African Americans have demonstrated and laid the path for other African-Americans to excel.”
The service of African-American warfighters from the all-black 1st Rhode Island Regiment of the Revolutionary War to the Sailors, Airmen, Soldiers and Marines of World War II and beyond was highlighted in a presentation during the event and was followed by a speech by guest speaker Carroll Chapman, CFAS housing area manager. Chapman has worked for the Navy as both Sailor and civilian for more than four decades and talked about his experiences as a young Sailor stationed at U.S. Naval base Subic Bay, Philippines, during the Vietnam War.
He spoke of his early years of service as a time of change within the Navy, touching on race riots and Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Elmo Zumwalt’s work to address equal rights, improve race relations and raise the quality of life for junior enlisted Sailors.
“Today, when I look around the Navy, I see the results of the struggles that I and others endured and I am optimistic,” said Chapman. “Although there may still be work to be done, it is stuff that can readily be accomplished. And I conclude by saying I feel very good about the future of the Navy.”
Black History Month originally began in 1926 when Carter G. Woodson founded “Negro History Week,” which was chosen due to it falling on the same week as the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass. This earned Carter G. Woodson the title of the “father of black history” according to the United States Department of State.
Black History Month eventually evolved from Negro History Week in February 1970 when Kent State University celebrated its first Black History Month. Finally, in 1976, President Gerald Ford recognized Black History Month officially during the celebration of the United States Bicentennial.
For more information, visit www.navy.mil, www.facebook.com/usnavy, or www.twitter.com/usnavy.