JOINT BASE CHARLESTON, S.C., –
Service members and members of the community gathered at the Chapel Annex Feb. 27, 2019, for the National African American Black History Month Celebration hosted by the Special Observance Committee at Joint Base Charleston, S.C.
Black History Month is the annual celebration of the cultural and social contributions of African-Americans and their impact on the United States.
To start off the event, Capt. Thomas Simmons, 628th Air Base Wing chaplain, gave a passionate invocation fused with themes of hope and unity.
“As we know this month in our great nation as Black History Month, we need to realize that it is all of our history,” said Simmons. “May the day come when no month need be separately divided. May we be mission-ready, together, as the defenders of this great nation, under God, with liberty and justice for all.”
Following the invocation, Col. Terrence Adams, the 628th Air Base Wing and JBC’s first black base commander, provided the opening remarks to the ceremony.
“Regardless of our backgrounds, we are all Airmen … Regardless of our backgrounds we are all Americans. As commander, it is important to me to highlight not only black-history, but all the customs and traditions, which make each culture within the force so great.”
Black artists from within the JBC community then performed original works and covers of important songs, hymns and poems, which highlighted the struggles and the need for change during the Civil Rights movement of the 20th century. For example, Toby Housey, 628th ABW Equal Opportunity officer, performed “Change Is Gonna Come,” written by Sam Cooke, which was selected for preservation in the Library of Congress in 2007, as the song was deemed "culturally, historically or aesthetically important to the Civil Rights era.”
Councilwoman Harriet Holman, Dorchester County’s first black-female council member and keynote speaker of the event, attributed much of her successes in life to those who came before her and laid the groundwork for her to become what she is today.
“The world is not a perfect place, but it has changed a lot since 1964,” said Holman. “Because of the ones who came before us, I am able to stand in front of you all today as a college graduate, a prior commissioned officer in the military, and the first black woman to hold a seat on the Dorchester County Council.”
She went on to describe the large migration of blacks after the emancipation and how it intertwined with and was integral to American culture and what it has grown into today. The culturally diverse crowd gave Holman a standing ovation.
The event highlighted the diversity of the Air Force while also strengthening its sense of unity among the service members and their communities.