Why do I celebrate Black History Month?

  • Published
  • By Senior Master Sgt. William Peoples
  • 62nd Maintenance Operation Squadron
Black History Month, a tradition in the United States for eight decades, is celebrated during the month of February. It is a time for Americans to reflect on the history and teachings of African Americans. It is the month when people can witness to the progresses, richness and diversity of African American achievement.

In 1915, Carter G. Woodson, a historian keenly interested in education founded the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History. It was through this organization that he began pressing for a "Negro History Week" as a way to explore the contributions of Black Americans. This dream became a reality 1926. It would be much later, in 1976, when the now renamed Association for the Study of Afro-American Life and History would succeed in expanding the week into Black History Month.

Personally, it gives me an opportunity to salute African American men and women who have served in the military. These pioneers played a vital role in the African American struggle to obtain freedom, justice and advancement in our society. For others, Black History Month can create a sense of awareness and appreciation for diversity. We have to look no further than our own United States Air Force for this sense of awareness and appreciation for diversity. Prominent Air Force African American's names such as the Tuskegee Airmen, General Benjamin O. Davis Jr., General Daniel "Chappie" James Jr. and others dot the landscape of Air Force installations around the world today as a testament.

As you prepare for the spirit enriched activities and social gatherings this month, take advantage of the wonderful opportunities that our forefathers have fought for to promote culture, racial harmony and continued remembrance of African Americans contributions. I urge everyone to reflect, not dwell on the past and search their inner souls to see what they can do to make tomorrow better than today. That's a small price to pay, knowing we are indeed in debt to those great African American leaders who have gone before us, for the quality of life and freedoms we enjoy today.