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History, heritage and keeping culture alive

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo.- Staff Sgt. Jojuan A. Green, 21st Operations Support Squadron weapons and tactics tactician, addresses the audience at the African American History Month Musical Extravaganza in The Club Ballroom, at Peterson Air Force Base, March 8, 2016. The event celebrated the significance of African American heritage through song and poetry. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Dennis J. Hoffman)

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo.- Staff Sgt. Jojuan A. Green, 21st Operations Support Squadron weapons and tactics tactician, addresses the audience at the African American History Month Musical Extravaganza in The Club Ballroom, at Peterson Air Force Base, March 8, 2016. The event celebrated the significance of African American heritage through song and poetry. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Dennis J. Hoffman)

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- When you bring up his heritage, Staff Sgt. Jojuan Green's eyes widen a bit, he talks a little faster and tidbits of history pour from him like water down a stream engorged by Spring rains. It quickly becomes apparent that you have hit his sweet spot.

"I love history," he said. "I would get into trouble in school because when they asked me about who founded America I said Christopher Columbus was wrong. It was the Vikings."

Because of his love for history and his African-American heritage Green, 21st Operations Support Squadron weapons and tactics tactician, and Airman 1st Class Andrew Lewis, 21st Operations Support Squadron space and missile intelligence analyst, organized the African-American History Month Musical Extravaganza held at Peterson Air Force Base.

Back home in Sylvester, Georgia. Green said events important in African-American culture don't need special announcements, they are just part of daily life. Names like Robert Johnson, W.E.B. Du Bois and Robert Beck are well known.

"What attracted me to my heritage is the courage (shown). They did not realize what they were doing when they did it," he said.  The magnitude of what those who went before achieved helped him maintain a humble attitude in researching them, which he did through books. A lot of books.

Green got the name Jojuan in a unique way, but it was one that set the course for his studious pursuit of his heritage, history and culture. His sister went to high school with a Chinese exchange student named Jujuan, who was the most brilliant person she had ever met. When Green's mother was pregnant there was no other name his sister would accept for her new brother and that is, well, history. The name was altered slightly, incorporating an "o" to honor his father John.

With such a name to live up to, it is no surprise Green became an avid reader. He read books from a variety of writers ranging from historian and civil rights activist Du Bois, rapper/poet Tupac Shakur, and Beck - better known as Iceberg Slim. He reads the Bible and Eastern classics like The Art of War.

Green also drew upon his family history as he made his way through life. He grew up on a farm with a brother, sister and many cousins. There were also the cows, goats, pigs, tobacco, peanuts, cotton, corn, and sugar cane. His family makes and sells sugar cane syrup, a southern staple. It is an athletic family, playing a variety of sports throughout its generations.

Taking these types of experiences and coupling them with those he learned by just being with his family as they went about doing what was important to them would further shape Green's passions. His parents were involved in the community through organizations like the NAACP and in many other ways. His older siblings attended traditionally black colleges and instilled in him a passion for black history.

"I would tag along with my dad when he helped around the community, so that resonated with me," he said. "The culture is so rich and deep."

His family's values trickled down and became his own. His parents encouraged reading and when his father read the paper, he told Green what the articles were about. He said his family didn't have a lot in the way of material possessions, but one thing his parents invested in was a set of encyclopedias.

Continuing in his family's heritage, it is only fitting that Green found his way into military service. His father is a decorated Vietnam veteran who served with the 101st Airborne in the Army. His uncles served in other branches of the military too. He grew up with military-style discipline and purpose which, not surprisingly, pointed him to the military.

That and growing up on the farm with all of those values sunk in, leading him to join the Air Force, he said.

He was in Junior ROTC in high school, then went on to Georgia Military College for two years. Following his time there Green returned home to work on the farm and a few other jobs when his life changed.

"I decided it was time to really take things seriously. I realized I was a role model to my younger cousins," Green said. "I realized if I am a role model I've got to get my stuff straight, they were hanging on what I was doing. Going into the military was a no brainer."

At first Green wanted to go into the Navy, but that was not to be. He had an appointment with a Navy recruiter, but when Green showed up he missed him. Next door there was an Air Force recruiter who was very helpful and seven years later the Air Force is part of Green's continuing history.

Be it his family heritage, personal history or culture, Green wants to do his part to share it with everyone.

"I want it to be (American) history. I want it to be next to George Washington chopping down a cherry tree," he said. "Let's include all history. It is mind blowing, I love to learn and I can trace so much back to black (people)."

If you are looking for someone who is passionate about who they are, where they came from and how it all plays into the big American picture, talking to Green would be a great place to start.

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