FORT EUSTIS, Va. – The U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command will host a Leader Professional Development webinar on Diversity, Inclusion, History and Memory: America and its Army on June 17, 2021.
Charles W. Bowery, Jr., executive director, U.S. Army Center of Military History, will lead the discussion reflecting on the Army’s history of diversity and inclusion in American society.
Deputy Chief of Staff, Maj. Gen. Daniel J. Christian, TRADOC, will host the LPD.
“George Santayana was credited with saying, ‘Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it,’ Christian said. “With that in mind, I am really looking forward to sitting down with Mr. Bowery.”
Bowery, a current PhD student, will touch on the lineage of diversity in the Army tracing back to 1775 during the Civil War. According to CMH, diversity in the Army began during the war when states looked to enslaved and free African Americans to fill quotas due to low enlistment from the white population. More than 186,000 African Americans served in the Army in the U.S. Colored Troops by the end of the Civil War.
“Diversity and inclusion in the Army’s history is important because when we look at the Civil War and Jim Crow era, we can study how the involvement of African Americans played an important role in the Army,” Bowery said.
CMH notes that historically inclusive African American Soldier employment in the field was limited in earlier wars as they were deemed unfit for service and had inadequate disciplined training. Despite the challenges, the Buffalo Soldiers of the black 9th and 10th Calvary Regiments, and the 24th and 25th Infantry Regiments were awarded the Medal of Honor for their courageous service.
“The history of diversity and inclusion encourages active Army leader development through leaders recognizing the valued effectiveness of diversity in Army operational success,” Bowery said.
He also notes that the Vietnam War marked a transition for the Army by the ending of the draft and return to an all-volunteer force. The service saw a significant rise in the number of African American enlisted Soldiers during this time because of increasing attractiveness of the Army and its efforts to end institutional racism.
“We began to see a shift in how race was regarded in the Army,” Bowery said. “You truly started to see the Army transform to reflect various walks of life.”
In the 2020 report of Black/African American active duty service members by the U.S. Department of Defense, more than 21 out of every 100 Soldiers were Black/African American.
Bowery acknowledges that while the Army has struggled and continues to combat the challenges of diversity and inclusion, the Army is the most diverse and supportive organization there is.
“The Army is one of the greatest organizations in the world, and we will continue to push for diversity and inclusion,” he said.
Christian acknowledges that Bowery’s work goes beyond just museums. His work directly impacts the ability to see one’s self, learn from one another, and ensure that the Army can meet the nation’s call efficiently and effectively.
“If you believe that the Army is a microcosm of the American people, as I do, then getting to talk history from the prospective of diversity and inclusion with Mr. Bowery is going to be a tremendous learning experience,” Christian said.
To tune into the LPD, visit TRADOC’s Facebook or watch page at 11 a.m. EST on Thursday, June 17, 2021.