Sailors aboard the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) commemorated African American History Month Feb. 22 by joining together in the ship’s forecastle to enjoy songs, dancing and speeches.
Black History Month is observed each year to highlight the contributions and impact African Americans have made to American history.
“The accomplishment of African Americans to American history cannot be overlooked,” said Cmdr. Yolanda Gillen, Stennis command chaplain. “Black History Month represents a dedicated time to focus on those accomplishments such as Dr. Charles Drew who helped develop techniques for blood storage during World War II.”
This year’s event, hosted by Stennis’ multicultural committee, is themed “At the Crossroads of Freedom and Equality, the Emancipation Proclamation and the March on Washington.”
“Black History Month is very significant because in order to look to where we’re going, we have to look at where we’ve been,” said Chief Navy Counselor Jean-Hero Lamy, chairman of Stennis’ multicultural committee. “We have to keep celebrating to keep those things alive so that the younger generations will have a sense of heritage.”
The chosen theme for this year commemorates the 150th anniversary of the emancipation proclamation and the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s march on Washington, D.C.
“I think it is important to remember what was accomplished,” said Seaman Darrell Spencer, who attended the ceremony. “The movements brought a lot of people together to support a single cause. No matter how far they had to walk or what people had to go through to get to where we are now, they did it for us.”
The John C. Stennis Carrier Strike Group (JCSCSG), consisting of Stennis, Carrier Air Wing 9, Destroyer Squadron 21, and guided-missile cruiser USS Mobile Bay (CG 53) are forward deployed to the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility to strengthen regional partnerships, sustain maritime security and support combatant commander requirements for assets in the area.
Naval Today Staff, February 24, 2013; Image: US Navy