ROCK ISLAND ARSENAL, Ill. -- Rock Island Arsenal honored African American heritage during the Black History Month observance at Heritage Hall here, Feb. 26.

Guest speaker, Dr. Christopher Whitt, and blues performer, Kevin "BF" Burt, were special guests.

This year's Black History Month theme was "Civil Rights in America" in honor of the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The act made employment discrimination illegal and allowed for the integration of schools and other public areas.

Whitt said our civil rights issues have evolved through the years but are rooted from the same era.

"Don't think of civil rights as something from the past," he said. "Look at it as something that needs to be re-booted for our time. Let's think of it as a continuing process."

Whitt is a professor of political science at Augustana College in Rock Island. He said the key to the success of the Civil Rights Movement was people refusing to be discriminated against any longer.

After Whitt delivered his speech, Burt performed an original song.

A self-taught vocalist, guitarist and harmonica player, he has performed blues music across the nation. Burt has shared the stage with B.B. King, Blues Traveler and The Neville Brothers, to name a few. He's also active in theater and had a role in the independent film, "Twelve-Thirty."

Black History Month originated in 1976 and is celebrated in the U.S. annually during the month of February.