From 'cotton fields' to economic success, hear the story of black heritage Thursday
February 4, 2010
- Post celebrates African American economic progress
- Black History Month luncheon to feature poetry, music, step show
FORT BENNING, Ga. - Celebrate Black History Month with the Fort Benning Equal Opportunity Office Thursday at the Benning Conference Center.
The luncheon will include a poetry recitation, a musical selection by the Kendrick High School choir and a step show.
COL(R) Myles Caggins Jr., assistant superintendent for business affairs for the Muscogee County School District, will speak on the event's theme: The History of Black Economic Empowerment.
There will be displays around the room, recognizing successful African-Americans and their achievements, said SFC Kwana Anthony, the Maneuver Center of Excellence equal opportunity adviser coordinating the event.
"If you want to learn the history - where it started, how we learned to start our own unions and professional associations - this would be the ideal place," Anthony said. "It was a rough journey ... it dates back to the cotton fields. We've come a long way because as many opportunities are available to us (now) as anyone else."
Like all their equal opportunity observances, this one will entertain while educating the public, Anthony said.
MAJ Lamar Wagner, personnel officer for 198th Infantry Brigade, said he has attended several EO luncheons and always finds them enlightening.
"It lets the installation know we do care about all heritage. We're still trying to be equal in everything we do," he said. "I really think Black History Month is important because it gives our young people the knowledge and skill to learn more about our heritage. Here at Fort Benning, I think it's very special because you have people from all around ... and we still come together to learn about the history of black people."
Pursuing equality and raising cultural awareness are both ongoing efforts, said Wagner, who will lead the local chapter of the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity in a step dance Thursday.
"All of the black fraternities and sororities ... we express ourselves through what we call 'hopping,' or step shows," said Wagner, a graduate member of Omega Psi Phi, founded in 1911. "It's stomping, clapping, some chanting. It's (about) identity."
Wagner said he hopes people will learn more about African-American heritage.
"There have been a lot of changes from slavery to today," he said, "so if there's anything we should get from it, it's that change has come. We should never forget where we came from and we should never forget where we're going.
"With black people, our main character and the way we see things is all about faith. We know we have to have faith to try to accomplish a lot of the endeavors we aim toward. (In the words of Martin Luther King), 'Faith is taking the first step, even when you don't see the whole staircase.'"
Tickets for the luncheon are $8.50. The menu is baked and fried chicken, corn on the cob, collard greens, white rice with gravy, salad, corn bread, rolls and peach cobbler.
To reserve your ticket or for more information, call 706-545-3196 or 706-545-3197.
February is Black History Month
The origin of Black History Month dates back 85 years. Historian Carter Woodson, founder of the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History, announced the first Negro History Week in February 1925. The dates were chosen so the celebration would overlap with the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass.
It became a monthlong observance in 1976 when President Gerald Ford encouraged America to "seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history."
Since that year, every president has issued African American History Month proclamations.
The month of February comprises the birthdays of poet Langston Hughes, activist W.E.B. DuBois, actor Sidney Poitier and the beginnings of the NAACP and the Pan-African Congress.