By Eldria Coleman, JMC Public and Congressional AffairsMarch 6, 2018
ROCK ISLAND ARSENAL, ILL. -- Joint Munitions Command hosted its Black History program on Wednesday, Feb. 28, celebrating significant African-American moments throughout history. The United States observes February as Black History Month, highlighting important African-American people and events in American history.
The event was sponsored by the Black/African American Special Emphasis Program Manager. During the event, there were samples of food from African-American culture and trivia questions for the crowd's enjoyment.
Shellie Moore-Guy is a published poet, story-teller, actress and community organizer. Moore-Guy was the guest speaker at the Black History Program. Moore-Guy spoke on the importance of Rock Island history, love over discrimination during her childhood, and the story of Harriet Tubman.
Moore-Guy opened with a story of events from her past and how her love for music and poetry intertwined with her family's history. Moore-Guy then directed the audience attention with one of her poems, "How Little Billy Learned to Play."
Moore-Guy even recruited from the audience, tagging each group with assigned chants, labeling them the Doom-Dockers, Swish-Swashers and Clip-Clappers, creating her very own chorus that she entertained the crowd with during her story.
Moore-Guy went on to tell stories about her childhood and how her parents shielded her and her siblings from racism.
"Sometimes we forget that we have more in common more than not. People will nurture you and it doesn't matter what the color of your skin is, how much money you made or where you live. Those are just certain principles that are just good for everybody," said Moore-Guy.
Moore-Guy proceeded to unravel the history of Harriet Tubman, highlighting from the time that she was born to the day Tubman became a free woman. Moore-Guy expressed her love for story-telling about this prominent woman in history that she had grown to appreciate.
"I get really excited about her life, her work and her strength. The very idea that this woman who started off as we all do, whose life is an example like ordinary people, like us, can accomplish extraordinary things -- and that is Harriet," said Moore-Guy.
Over the years, Moore-Guy also gathered information on the mark her own ancestors left on the earth as well as the turn of events that happened through her eyes in Rock Island. She encouraged the crowd to look into important events in the area, such as 108th Colored Infantry Regiment that served on Rock Island Arsenal.
"Nine hundred and eighty-one members of that group from Kentucky served on the island during the Civil War. About 50 of them are buried here on this island," said Moore-Guy.
"I tell these stories because I want black people to know that we paid the dues to work here, live here and be a part of society. Our ancestors were a part of this big operation, at every turn and every war," said Moore-Guy.
Mellissa Hearn, Black/African-American Special Emphasis Program Manager for the Black history programs said "everything was really nice."
"Black History is important as it teaches values and culture, the very things that many of us carry with us in our everyday lives -- personal and professional. You can learn from any individual. I really appreciate everyone who donated time and resources for this event," said Hearn.