JBSA-Lackland celebrates start of Black History Month By Allison Miller | 502nd Air Base Wing Public Affairs | Jan. 31, 2020

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The African-American Heritage Committee initiated the start of Black History Month in a ceremony filled with history, fashion, poems, jazz and soul food at Arnold Hall on JBSA-Lackland, Jan. 28.

The ceremony focused on the history of African-American voting rights and introduced a series of events that will occur throughout February, in honor of Black History Month.

“It’s time to celebrate, to be joyful, to be thankful and to remember the legacy and history that has come before (us) and to lay down the history and legacy of the future,” said Col. Scott Thompson, 502nd Installation Support Group commander.

Several guest speakers covered cultural topics ranging from the history of jazz to the meaning of the colors found in traditional African clothing. Each speaker emphasized the cultural influence made on their topic by African-American people.

With the primary elections coming up, the ceremony put emphasis on the topic of voting and voting history. African-American men were not given the right to vote until 1870, and women had to wait nearly 50 years before receiving their right. Even after the rights were established, several laws and taxes still prevented equal voting rights for all. In 1965, the Federal Voting Rights Act enforced registration and voting rights for all.

2020 marks 150 years since African-American men were given the right to vote. The theme of this celebration is meant to emphasize the struggle of black men and black women for the right to vote, said Tech Sgt. Richard Smith Jr., event emcee.

The African-American Heritage Committee has planned several events throughout the month of February in celebration of Black History Month.

“Heritage celebrations like this event, kicking off African-American History Month, allow us to reflect and celebrate the diverse background, history and contributions to our society,” said Thompson. “The planned events for February are a great way to show our appreciation and celebrate the contributions of African-Americans that will honor the past and continue to secure the future of our great nation.”

Learn more about Black History Month at the following events:

Feb. 7 – JBSA Youth Basketball Clinic at 4:30 p.m., Lackland Youth Center. POC: Ivan Keene, 977-4995

Feb. 10-13 – Did You Know Movement, local elementary schools. POC: Mark Carter, 808-1094

Feb. 15 – Gospel Fest at noon, Freedom Chapel, JBSA-Lackland. POC: Andrea Howard, 671-1755

Feb. 17- 29 – Black History Month displays at The Exchange, JBSA-Lackland.

Feb. 26 – Capstone Luncheon at 11 a.m., Gateway Club, JBSA-Lackland. POC: Wanda Smith, 671-1758