Area I marks Black History Month
By Franklin Fisher
CAMP RED CLOUD – Area I marked Black History Month with a Feb. 15 luncheon that focused on the role of black women in American history and culture.
Guest speaker was Sgt. Maj. Rhonda Stafford, who addressed an audience at the Kilbourne Dining Facility at Camp Red Cloud. Stafford is assigned to the 175th Financial Management Center.
Since 1976, Black History Month has been a means of recognizing and commemorating the history of the African Diaspora, as well as celebrating the contributions African-Americans have made to the United States. This year’s Black History Month theme is “Black Women in American Culture and History.”
“The study of black history and the history of this nation are inextricably tied to each other,” said Stafford.
“Black people have played a unique, productive role in the development of America,” she said.
And black women, she said, “without question have played a vital role in the history of our nation and our Army since the American revolution.
“In slavery and freedom, their struggles have been at the heart of the human experience, and their fight against racism and sexism serve as a testament to their perseverance to overcome adversity.”
Stafford also spoke of those black women who gave their energy and resolve to the Civil Rights Movement. Some of them, she said, “were poor and uneducated and yet they had great determination and dreams.
“These women filled the churches, halls, and streets,” Stafford continued. “They taught in the schools, helped create strong communities and stood up powerful organizations…worked long hours educating themselves, any way possible.
“They endured great obstacles but through commitment and resiliency they made a change, and one by one they made a difference.”
Stafford went on to highlight a number of famous black women: Sojourner Truth, Harriet Tubman, Madame C.J. Walker, Rosa Parks, Shirley Chisolm, Maya Angelou, Mae C. Jemison, Oprah Winfrey, and First Lady Michelle Obama.
She also named a number of black women who’ve distinguished themselves in the U.S. military, among them Maj. Gen. Marcia M. Anderson, the Army’s first black female two-star general.
“The accomplishments and sacrifices of black women are the expressions of a vibrant culture, in our churches, community, and sororities…” Stafford said.
“Anyone who thinks dreams are impossible or that society can’t be changed by one person’s efforts need only look to these women as role models,” Stafford said.
Stafford, who enlisted in the Army 26 years ago, spoke fondly of her grandmother, Mittie Jane Chavis, as a major influence in shaping Stafford’s life. The elder woman’s 100th birthday is in May.
“I often think about all she’s been seen throughout her life,” said Stafford, “the headaches and the hope, the struggles and the progress.”
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