Yolanda Milton-Daniels performs a song as attendees cheer on during the African-American Black History Luncheon at The Landing’s ballroom Feb. 26. (Photo by John G. Martinez)
Published: March 3, 2016
FORT RUCKER, Ala. (March 3, 2016) -- Reflecting that African-American history is part of American history, the Fort Rucker community celebrated Black History Month and those of color who contributed to building the nation.
Fort Rucker’s observance of the month culminated with the African-American Black History Month Luncheon at The Landing’s ballroom Feb. 26, and the theme for this year’s observance was “Hallowed Ground: Sites of African-American Memories,” and focused not only on the different sites throughout the U.S. where African-American History was made and preserved, but where American history was made.
“It should go without saying that African-American history cannot be contained within a single month any more than celebrating America should be only contained into a single day on the Fourth of July,” said Sgt. 1st Class Michael Lukeman, 1st Aviation Brigade equal opportunity adviser, during the ceremony. “There are those who say, in the history of our nation there are more painful (memories) than good ones for those of African descent. I would be doing a disservice at the very least to deny this.
“However, when we take the time each February, we learn that there is so much good that is too often forgotten,” he continued. “I strongly encourage all of us here to take the time to understand that this is a celebration not of one race or of one culture, but of all of us as Americans.”
Throughout the celebration, songs were sung and observances were made, and Charlie Smith Jr., Army Mission Command Systems instructor for the Aviation Captain’s Career Course and Warrant Officers Advanced Course, offered up his words as to what African-American History Month means to him.
“Black History Month is a celebration and we ask the question, ‘Why celebrate Black History Month?’” he said. “We celebrate Black History Month because there is always a story behind the glory and it must be told.
“One truth that must be shared is that most African Americans would love to remove the adjective ‘black’ from the designation of Black History Month, and would simply love to be regularly included in history rather than having to tell a separate story in addition to what is being taught in our public schools,” he continued. “We continue to set aside this month in commemoration, and unto this day, our children are bombarded with images of greatness in their books and on their televisions, but none or very few look like them unless they are shackled or down trodden.”
Smith said that of the 44 presidents the nation has seen, only one resembles the African-American children in our schools.
He said of all the superheroes that children look up to, none of them look like those same African-American children.
Black History Month is celebrated because the contributions of African Americans have been undervalued, underestimated and marginalized, he said, but none of the accomplishments throughout history would have been possible without a collaboration of all.
“All that we have accomplished over the years and the places that we have come from for the advancement of people of color could not have been possible if it were not for God and the loving collaboration between whites and blacks, males and females, gay and straight, young and old,” said Smith. “These groups have been actively involved in the movement since Day 1, and even until this day.
“The imprint of Americans of African descent is deeply imbedded in the narrative of the American past,” he said. “One cannot tell the story of America without preserving and reflecting on the places where African Americans have made history.”
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