DOD turns to the future for Black History Month
February 18, 2010
- Equal Opportunity Officer celebrates diversity with military youth
- Department of Defense honors the achievements of African-Americans
- Equal Opportunity Officer helps military kids in Germany understand different cultures
HEIDELBERG, Germanyi - February's Black History Month typically has been a time to reflect on the achievements of prominent African-Americans from our nation's past such as Harriet Tubman or from the present such as President Barack Obama.
For this year's celebration, the Department of Defense turns to the future with the theme of "Reaching Out to Youth: A Strategy for Excellence."
Reaching out to youth of all races and backgrounds is what the U.S. Army Garrison Kaiserslautern's Equal Opportunity Officer Terri Guy does when she gets the chance - any month - for many years.
"Think about it, someone touched the lives of prominent people when they were young - helped to guide them in the positive direction they were going," she said. "We have to take that same enthusiasm and vision with our youth."
She was talking about why she volunteered to assist Department of Defense Dependents Schools-Europe seniors at the U.S. Africa Command's Educational Forum Feb. 7 at the Patch Theater on Patch Barracks in Stuttgart.
"I was talking to kids on how to prepare for college and helped them fill out TA (Tuition Assistance) forms," said Guy, who was participating in this event as a member of the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, incorporated.
Another event that she volunteered for was talking to middle-school students about diversity during the 86th Airlift Wing's Drug Education for Youth monthly class Nov. 21 at the Health and Awareness Center on Ramstein Air Base.
"I think it's absolutely important to understand people and their cultures," said Guy, who has lived in Europe and Asia, and visited Africa and The Middle East. "It just helps us in making decisions and in personal relationships with each other, and the more we understand each other the easier it is to tolerate differences in each other."
Guy told the students that she learned a lot about diversity growing up in Baltimore and found learning about different races, cultures, religions and politics, an adventure.
"I absolutely believe that America is the greatest nation in the world and that's based on traveling all over the world," she said during her hour presentation.
Senior Master Sgt. Shon Barnwell, from Headquarters, U.S. Air Forces in Europe and a DEFY counselor, invited Guy to speak after meeting her on a trip and learning about her job.
"As a military member who has a dependent child here, it is important to me how she relates to others because she is not only a representation of me, but also of the Air Force, Department of Defense and United States," said Barnwell, on why she felt it was important for Guy to talk about the importance of diversity to DEFY students.
Guy accepted the invitation because "I just welcome every opportunity to talk to kids and get them started on the right path."
Black History Month was founded in 1926 by United States historian Carter G. Woodson as "Negro History Week." Woodson chose the second week of February because it marked the birthdays of two Americans who greatly influenced the lives and social condition of African Americans - former President Abraham Lincoln and abolitionist and former slave Frederick Douglass.