Academy celebrates African-American History

  • Published
  • By Capt. Mario Gonzalez
  • 10th Medical Group

This month, Lt. Gen. Michelle Johnson, the superintendent of the Air Force Academy, signed a proclamation in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day and African-American History Month. Throughout January and February, several events have and will take place to commemorate and encourage reflection upon the national MLK theme of “Remember! Celebrate! Act! A Day On, Not a Day Off!,” and AAHM’s theme of “Hallowed Grounds: Sites of African-American Memory.

To celebrate King’s 87th birthday and contribute to the only federal holiday observed as a national day of service, the Academy’s Special Observance Committee posted charity boxes around base to allow everyone to donate new and slightly used children’s books until February 29. All donations will be given to the local community and presented to children who lack access to books.


King said, “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, what you are doing for others?” The committee, along with six volunteers, answered this question Jan. 16-18 by helping to provide 1,578 hot meals to hungry families in downtown Colorado Springs. The committee organized a second group of volunteers Jan. 22 who donated their time participating in activities and reading to more than 100 children at the Academy Child Development Center and Youth Center to join the national initiative in combating summer reading loss and childhood obesity through education, activity, and volunteering.


The history of African-Americans unfolds across the canvas of America, beginning before the arrival of the Mayflower and continuing well into the present. From the port cities where Africans disembarked from slave ships to the battle fields where their descendants fought for freedom, from the colleges and universities where they pursued education to places where they created communities during centuries of migration, the imprint of Americans of African descent is deeply embedded in the narrative of our American past.


In the military, African-Americans have proudly served in every American battle, from the Revolutionary War to our current operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, to protect our nation with fortitude and commitment. While it’s impossible to list the accomplishments and achievements of all African-American Airmen, we’d be hard-pressed to find a more notable example than those of the Tuskegee Airmen, a group of 992 Airmen who helped break-down down racial barriers while flying 1,578 combat missions during World War II.


To celebrate African-American History Month, the Special Observance Committee will set up a static display to offer education on Colorado’s historic grounds with directions to these local sites. The collection will include original African-American history art posters from Douglass Valley elementary school students. The display can be seen at the 10th Medical Group, February 1-5; the 10th Air Base Wing headquarters building February 8-12; the Cadet Wing foyer February 15-19 and the 10th MDG lobby February 22-26.


The committee appreciates the cadets and the Way of Life Committee for hosting the African-American History Month dinner 5:30 p.m., February 10 in the Falcon Club Ballroom. They have the honor of hosting guest speaker Dr. Michael Sawyer, professor of Race, Ethnicity, and Migration Studies at Colorado College. This great event will include a special performance by the Cadet Gospel Choir and a presentation of the WLC Legacy Award, honoring a member for distinguished service to the Way of Life Committee and the Academy community at-large. Dinner is $10 for cadets and $30 for all others. Space is limited so RSVP by February 5 at


This year we will honor African-American history while celebrating how we can carry out King’s vision of making the world a better place. The committee and I encourage you to honor these special observances by involving ourselves in our community and with those in need, and recognizing the central role of African-Americans in U.S. history. Get involved by visiting to find numerous opportunities for you and your family to participate in local community service efforts throughout the year.


We encourage you to reflecting on Dr. Carter G. Woodson’s vision that we will one day honor African-Americans and their accomplishments without requiring a special month each year. Through the collective efforts of educating and cultivating awareness of the true history of African-Americans in America, we can create unity and overcome negative stereotypes.

Call 333-5546 for more volunteer information.