WASHINGTON (Army News Service, Feb. 3, 2009) -- The national theme of this year's African American History Month observance running through February is "Quest for Black Citizenship in the Americas."

In keeping with this theme, the Equal Employment Opportunity Web site for Department of the Army headquarters features a quiz "Paving the Way to the Presidency."

EEO Officer Beatrice Bernfeld said employees can test their knowledge of African Americans within the electoral system by taking the quiz at https://secureweb.hqda.pentagon.mil/eeo/main/Index.asp.

In addition to citizenship, the Department of Defense will emphasize quality education during the month-long observance, according to Jay D. Aronowitz, the acting deputy assistant secretary of the Army for EEO and Civil Rights.

In a memorandum to Army commands, Aronowitz said the DOD theme for African American History month supports Presidential Executive Order 13256, aimed at advancing equal opportunity in higher education. The special DOD theme for the month is "Reaching Out to Youth: A Strategy for Excellence."

A DOD outreach event is scheduled to take place Feb. 25-26 at Alabama Agriculture and Mechanical University in Normal, Ala. As part of the ceremonies, DOD will present African-American History Month Recognition Awards to selected service members.

The awards will be presented by the Department of Defense Office of Diversity Management and Equal Opportunity to service members who have supported the Global War on Terrorism between February 2006 and January of this year. Nominees must demonstrate role-model qualities and the core values of their service, according to Aronowitz. His memorandum states per diem and travel costs must be paid by the recipients' units. Award nominations must be submitted through each unit's chain of command and submitted to the Army's G-1 EO office.

The EEO Directorate for Army headquarters is sponsoring a special Pentagon tour Feb. 19 focusing on African-American contributions to the Army, both by civilians and Soldiers. The morning tour will feature the "African Americans in the Defense of Our Nation" Corridor display located in the Pentagon's second floor A-Ring, near corridor 7.

The roots of African American History Month stem back to Harvard-trained historian, Carter G. Woodson. He founded the "Association for the Study of Negro Life and History," which began a week-long observance honoring Black History in February 1926.

By the time of Woodson's death in 1950, the History Week had become a significant observance. Mayors of cities nationwide issued proclamations. The celebration was expanded to a month in 1976, the nation's bicentennial, with a proclamation by President Gerald R. Ford. Since then each American president has issued proclamations for the month-long observance.