Jackson honors Black History Month

By Leader Staff ReportsFebruary 22, 2024

Soldiers from 1st Battalion, 13th Infantry Regiment salute during their Basic Combat Training graduation held Feb. 14 at Hilton Field. (Photo Credit: Nathan Clinebelle) VIEW ORIGINAL

Fort Jackson and the Institute for Religious Leadership celebrated Black History Month.

Chaplain (Col.) Louis Deltufo, commandant of the IRL and Command Sgt. Maj. Roldan Thomas Jr., the institute’s senior enlisted leader introduced the guest speaker Lt. Col. Michael W. Chung, IRL operations officer.

“As I stand here today to celebrate Black History Month in the year 2024, I stand on the shoulders of giants – those remarkable individuals who have shaped the course of history and contributed immeasurably to the tapestry of our shared human experience,” Chung said. “This month provides us with a valuable opportunity to reflect on the achievements, struggles, and resilience of the Black community throughout the ages.

“Our theme this year is ‘Honoring the Past, Embracing the Future,’ a reminder that while we pay homage to the trailblazers and pioneers who paved the way for progress, we must also look ahead with optimism and commitment to building a future of equality and justice for all.”

According to Army.mil, Black Americans have left an indelible mark on history and on our society. America has never fought a war in which Black Americans did not serve proudly. But throughout most of American history, Black service members faced great adversity.

They have fought in every American war and Crispus Attucks was one of the first to die for freedom after being gunned down by the British in the Boston Massacre.

“In the pages of history, we find inspiring stories of African Americans who faced adversity with courage and determination,” Chung said. “From the abolitionists who fought against the chains of slavery, to the civil rights leaders who marched for justice, each chapter in Black history reflects a relentless pursuit of freedom, equality, and dignity.”

The journey to a more just society is not over, he added. Even though we celebrate their achievements in the past, more is needed to be done.

However, our journey towards a more just society is far from over, he said. Today, as we celebrate the achievements of the past, we must also confront the challenges of the present. Systemic racism, inequality, and social injustice persist in our communities, demanding our collective attention and action.

Chung, a proud descendent of Jamaican immigrants was the first in his family to be born in the United States.

He learned the value of hard work during his earlier life in Miami earning a bachelor’s and master’s degrees. He said he was inspired to join the Army by the legacy of those who went before him.

“Through dedication and commitment, I rose through the ranks, from a humble private to now holding the rank of lieutenant colonel,” he said. “But my story is not just about personal success; it is about the collective dream of generations past, and the promise of generations yet to come. My siblings and I are the personification of my mother’s unwavering belief in the American Dream echoed by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., — the dream that her five little children would one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.”

Chung also said education is a “powerful tool for change.”

“By listening and learning from one another, we can create a more inclusive narrative that reflects the richness and diversity of our society,” he said.

“This Black History Month, let us celebrate the triumphs, acknowledge the struggles, and commit ourselves to the ongoing work of creating a future where equality, justice, and dignity are the birthright of every individual, regardless of their race,” Chung concluded. “Together, let us continue to strive for a future where the ideals of freedom and justice ring true for all, where opportunity knows no bounds, and where every individual has the chance to fulfill their true unlimited potential.”

(Editor’s note: Video of the Black History Month presentation can be found on the Fort Jackson Facebook page)