FORT HOOD, Texas - The theme of this year's Black History Month celebration was the history of black economic empowerment, and the guest speaker was 12-year-old Elijah Howard, the president of Killeen's Youth NAACP.
Elijah addressed the Soldiers of the 4th Sustainment Brigade, 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) during the unit's Black History Month observance at Howze Theater Feb. 26.
The show included brief skits, a recounting of the history of black economic empowerment, and Elijah, who was the star of the show.
During a brief delay before the guest speaker arrived, Maj. Jerry Seig, the Wrangler Brigade chaplain, gave an impromptu speech. He talked about growing up in an all-white town in Pennsylvania and after joining the Army 1981, working with people of different races for the first time.
"I learned to look at somebody for their character and not for what you see on the outside," Seig said. "The Army is the best place for that. This is where people from all backgrounds and all walks of life come together to work alongside one another."
Elijah was calm and confident as he captivated the audience.
"Black economic empowerment. I bet some of you think I don't know what that means, huh' Well, after discussing with some people in our community, I know we need to make our money work for us instead of us working for our money," said Elijah.
He kept the crowd laughing with tales of his money-making schemes, but he also shared the lessons that he learned from those efforts.
"It's important for us to not only think about what we want to improve in our economic condition, but we also need to remember to work for what we want," Elijah said.
Elijah closed his speech by reminding the audience to be persistent in achieving goals, and never to lose sight of what they want. After he spoke, he was presented with a Certificate of Appreciation from the Wrangler Family for his efforts.
"We are all part of history," he said. "We all have the potential to be in the Fortune 500. And when we reach every goal, I ask that each of us remember to reach back and teach someone else how to get to that same spot."