The role of African-Americans was celebrated by the Fort Carson community during the Black History Month Observance at the Elkhorn Conference Center Feb. 15.
Each year during the month of February, particular aspects of history are recognized to broaden the knowledge and deepen the appreciation of the countless contributions African-Americans have made to the life of the nation, said Sgt. Amber Hargrove, 3rd Brigade Combat Team Equal Opportunity leader.
"African-American history is one of the great human chronicles of all time. It is the story of men and women who, with extraordinary courage and faith, prevailed against centuries of slavery and discrimination to build their lives for themselves and their families - to contribute immeasurably to the strength and character of our nation," Hargrove said.
Hargrove said this year's theme, African-Americans and the Civil War, reflects on the 150 years since the start of the Civil War and on the patriots of a young country who fought for the promises of justice and equality laid out by the forefathers.
Dr. Anthony Young, Denver-Rocky Mountain Association of Black Psychologists president and observance guest speaker, said Americans oftentimes don't understand their own history, but can celebrate diversity through events such as Black History Month.
"United we stand ... do we know who we are standing beside' There's a value in understanding the history of African-Americans and other Americans in this country because without understanding the history, we really don't have adequate understanding about who we're standing beside," Young said.
Though it may be hard, Young said acknowledging the good, as well as the bad and the ugly, is the key to accepting and overcoming America's past in regards to the treatment of African-Americans.
"One of the challenges we have as Americans is to not only acknowledge all of the wonderful virtues we have as a nation, but to also maybe come to grips with some of the less-honorable characteristics that we've had to experience. It would be a shame if we don't acknowledge the fact that we've been able to overcome so much adversity as a nation and as citizens."
During the Civil War era, blacks were either refused the chance to serve in the military or grossly underpaid for their service, but the desire to be treated equally prevailed, Young said.
"Throughout the years there has been some ongoing controversy regarding the social conditions under which African-Americans have existed in this country versus taking up arms to defend it in various ways, but, without a doubt, African-Americans have always honorably served the United States and always shall," Young said.
"We have a lot to be proud of and, as we pause to celebrate National Black History Month it's very important that we appreciate the sacrifices and the conditions under which African-Americans had to endure and overcome."