FORT JACKSON, S.C.- The 81st Regional Support Command hosted its annual celebration of African American history Feb. 6, at the Wildcat Auditorium, Fort Jackson, S.C.
Guest speaker, Joseph Johnson, Archaeologist, Historic Columbia, gave 81st Soldiers and civilians an oral and visual guided tour into the lives of African Americans during the Civil Rights era in Columbia.
"I heard him speak at the annual NAACP conference [last year] and was impressed with the information, delivery, presence and knowledge he had," said Master Sgt. Rosalind Chamberlain, Equal Opportunity Advisor. "I wanted the Soldiers to have the same experience."
She said often we learn about black history on a large scale, but what Johnson brought was how Columbia played a role in the civil rights movement.
Johnson spoke on behalf of black life, history and culture.
"Life being, African Americans participating in different aspects of the Civil Rights movement in Columbia," said Johnson. "That ties into what is black culture which builds its history. This was a great opportunity to present the project I'm working on and the realism of living history which is the real history of black history."
Johnson is currently working on the Columbia S.C. 63 initiative. Project 63 was initially created in 2012 to mark the 50th anniversary of 1963, the height of the Civil Rights Movement.
Now, the initiative aims to acquire and manage different aspects of Columbia Civil Rights history.
Those things being oral interpretations, photographs, and documents, all in the aspect of highlighting and illustrating exactly what civil rights looked like in S.C. and presenting that to the public in different ways.
"A lot of monumental events took place [in 1963] that set the stage for the Act of 1964," said Johnson. "A lot of demonstrations, debates and core cases were in 63, not only for South Carolina but for the entire nation."
A nation for which Chamberlain swore to protect and serve.
"These observances help break down stereotypes," said Chamberlain. "Studies show when you teach someone about a culture they become an advocate for that culture."
Because the Armed Forces are made up of so many cultures, she said we have to learn a person's history to sometimes learn who they are today.
"A person's history such as slavery or the Holocaust can have an impact on individuals that didn't specifically live during that era," said Chamberlain. "Understanding others culture helps break down the stereotypes that can turn into discrimination which can turn into hate."