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February events mark African American Heritage Month

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- Organized efforts to promote awareness of African-Americans’ contributions to society have been taking place since the mid-1920s. The Association for the Study of Negro Life and History began the focus and in February of 1926 the organization celebrated the first Negro History Week.

The month of February was chosen to honor President Abraham Lincoln’s role in abolishing slavery, said Staff Sgt. Jojuan Green, leader of the Black History Month committee at Peterson Air Force Base. February is Lincoln’s birth month.

In 1976, the week was expanded to an entire month and to this day every President since Gerald Ford has issued a proclamation in honor of this special time. Now it is referred to as Black History Month or National African American History Month.

“Black history is world history,” Green said. “A lot of times people don’t see the contribution made by black people. Some of the greatest military minds, like Hannibal, were black.”

Air Force history is filled with notable black leaders. For example, C. Alfred “Chief” Anderson – The Father of Black Aviation – was the first ground commander and chief instructor for the famed Tuskegee Airman, beginning in 1941. He in turn trained Gen. Benjamin O. Davis, first African-American general officer in the U.S. Air Force, and Gen. Daniel “Chappie” James who was the first African-American to become a four-star general. James also served as commander of NORAD/NORTHCOM.

The Black Heritage Month theme for 2017 is “Hidden Figures,” Green said. It is taken from the title of a feature film about the contribution of a team of African-American women who provided NASA with mathematical data crucial to its first successful space missions. The theme signifies the many black Americans who contribute and do not receive the major recognition of more famous people like inventor George Washington Carver.

Green said the committee received a lot of good feedback after last year’s Black History Month events and it is being put to good use in planning this year’s events. He credits a diverse committee for putting together what they think will be a great celebration month.

The month will include a special viewing of the movie “Hidden Figures.” The movie will be shown at 1:30 p.m., Feb. 2 at the Cinemark Carefree Imax Theater. A special rate of $5.86 per person has been arranged by the committee.

Storytelling sessions, featuring people reading stories to children about black history topics, will take place in the Child Development Center on Paine Street. Readings for preschool age children will take place every Monday, Wednesday and Friday during February for 10-15 minutes and for toddler age children on Tuesday or Thursday for 10 minutes. The readings take place between 9-10:30 a.m. for both age groups.

A Black History Month 5K run will take place in conjunction with the regular Wing Warfit on Feb. 22, then a luncheon will be held 11 a.m. Feb. 28, at the Atrium in The Mission Support Group building to wrap up the month’s events, Green said.

The luncheon will feature a soul food lunch catered by London Soul Food, singing, spoken word poetry and dancing. The committee is still seeking people to perform at the event and those interested should contact Green.

Nationally there are many events taking place to honor the contributions of black Americans. According to the African American History Month website, a number of entities including the Library of Congress, National Archives and Records Administration, National Endowment for the Humanities, National Gallery of Art, National Park Service, Smithsonian Institution and United States Holocaust Memorial Museum have joined together to honor the generations of African Americans who battled adversity to gain full citizenship in American society.

Information about Black History Month on the Web:

African American History Month http://www.africanamericanhistorymonth.gov/

Smithsonian Institution http://www.si.edu/events/heritagemonth

History Channel http://www.history.com/topics/black-history/black-history-month

For more information about Black History Month events on Peterson Air Force Base contact Staff Sgt. Jojuan Green at (719) 556-2993.

For storytellers at the CDC contact Capt. Celeste Oliver (text message or voice mail) 850-621-4995.

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