FORT BENNING, Ga. (Feb. 22, 2012) -- Fort Benning's annual Black History Month ceremony Feb. 14 observed diversity and the accomplishments of black women.

Retired Lt. Col. Shatrece Buchanan, guest speaker, spoke about "leveraging diversity" in the military and in workplaces.

"When we talk about diversity, we are talking of simply including all people," Buchanan said. "We're talking about inclusiveness; we're talking about valuing others for what they bring to the table."

Buchanan retired Feb. 1 after 24 years of military service. She served as 3rd Infantry Division's Equal Opportunity program manager and other positions include executive officer, company commander, and West Point instructor.

She said the United States population increased by 100 million people in 37 years, affecting competition.

"Increased populations mean we will need to maintain a more competitive edge in our economic market, thus the need to leverage diversity," she said. "Leveraging diversity will make your team believe that they are valued and that they are not invisible and that their contributions are considered and useful. This will inevitably make our military able to remain the leading and most dominating force in the world."

She suggested ways to leverage diversity including changing the hearts of others so they can learn to care about others.

If there are people who don't care for others, Buchanan said, change the heart.

"I would also submit to you that probably every person in this room has some sort of prejudice or bias," she said. "So what we need to do with those prejudices or bias is put them in a jar, seal them up and throw them out."

These jars full of prejudices and biases should be replaced with Army values, the mission and the Warrior Ethos, Buchanan said.

"And if you don't care about your brother or sister I would really look introspectively and say, 'I gotta learn to care and love other people,'" Buchanan said. "So it starts with the heart."

The ceremony recognized seven black women, including Ida B. Wells, first lady Michelle Obama and Maj. Gen. Marcia Anderson, the first black woman to reach the rank of major general in the Army.

The ceremony also included a poetry recitation, musical selections by the Kendrick High School chorus and Pinehurst Christian School, and local recognition of women led by Col. Kevin MacWatters, commander of the 194th Armored Brigade.