Each February Team Redstone observes Black History Month. It is a time set aside to celebrate the tremendous contributions of Black Americans to our communities, country, and to history.
This year the Security Assistance Command hosted the event on February 22. The guest speaker was Dana Larkins, a professional development coach. Larkins is the owner and founder of Grady Smith Consulting, where he helps others understand the power of mindset to unlock their potential and move to new levels of success. He was recently featured on Alabama Entrepreneur.
The theme this year is Inspiring Change, set by the Defense Equal Opportunity Management Institute.
“Black history is American history,” said Larkins. He shared in his remarks a bit about his family’s history. His grandparents lived in “another America” in the 1930s and 40s, and his parents lived in this “other America” in the 50s and 60s. “They lived through bigotry and racism…watching others who had a total disregard for human life.”
This “other America” was first mentioned by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., in a March 1968 speech. He spoke of two Americas.
“One America is beautiful situations…millions of people have the milk of prosperity and the honey of equality flowing before them,” said King. “But there is another America, and this other America has a daily ugliness about it that transforms ebulliency of hope onto the fatigue of despair.”
Larkins’ parents both served in the military. Despite living in this other America, “they chose to protect and serve America.” His parents believed in the value of imagination, which can bring about needed change.
He wove change throughout his speech to the crowd at the Bob Jones Auditorium, saying that “Change begins within an individual. Change is a choice, is a dream, is an action.”
BG Brad Nicholson, commander of USASAC, reminded us that “African Americans have fought in every conflict in American history.” However, not only have Soldiers and other servicemembers fought for freedom, but many men and women “have worked diligently to better America for all of America.
Two other highlights of the observance were the Aeolian Choir of Oakwood University and a soul food tasting from the local restaurant SAC’s Kitchen.
The 45-member choir presented several spiritual songs, “which express the yearnings of their forefathers to be free,” according to their website.
Nicholson said, “We know the significance of keeping the Black culture alive through food and music.”
The observance of Black History Month was first proposed in the late 1960s and officially recognized in 1978. The Department of Defense is continuing this 45-year-old tradition to pay tribute to the men and women who have made significant contributions to every field of human endeavor. We honor those who in the past and present Inspire Change.