Black History Month

Black_History_Month_PosterFebruary is Black History Month, and the Southwestern Division is observing this event by taking a look at the many achievements and the powerful impacts that African Americans have made on our great nation.  The theme this year is “The Crisis in Black Education,” a situation that has a particular impact on the Army Corps of Engineers as we seek future employees in the STEM arena.

Also known as National African American History Month, the observance dates back to the early 1900’s and can be attributed Carter G. Woodson for advancing the awareness of African Americans in our nation’s history.

Beginning in 1926 the observance was scheduled for the second week in February to coincide with the birthdates of Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass. Since 1976, every U.S. president has officially designated the month of February as Black History Month.

For Soldiers and Army civilians, this observance holds a special meaning since black Americans have always served gallantly alongside their fellow compatriots.

AABHM_BookmarkOne example is Henry Ossian Flipper, who was born into slavery on March 21, 1856, and was appointed to the United States Military Academy in 1873.  Over the next four years he overcame harassment, isolation, and insults to become West Point’s first African-American graduate and commissioned officer in the regular U.S. Army.

As a West Point graduate myself, I find his story particularly compelling.  West Point now gives an award in his honor to the graduating senior who has displayed “the highest qualities of leadership, self-discipline, and perseverance in the face of unusual difficulties while a cadet.”

Another famous black history event that hits close to home for us is the story of the Little Rock Nine.

The Little Rock Nine were black students who sought to attend Little Rock Central High School in the fall of 1957. Because of racial tensions, the schools officials, fearing for the students’ safety, dismissed the Little Rock Nine.

Answering a request from Little Rock’s mayor, President Dwight Eisenhower ordered paratroopers from the 101st Airborne Division to the school, escorting students to the building and singling those bent on disrupting the federal mandate. Over the following days, Eisenhower federalized 10,000 guardsman, effectively keeping the situation in hand.

As we enter this special observance, I ask that as you carry out your day-to-day business you take time to reflect on African American Heritage and the obstacles black Americans have overcome, and take some time to view the Defense Equal Opportunity Management Institute (DEOMI) slides on Black History Month 2017 for additional information on famous events in our nation’s African American heritage.


David C. Hill
Brigadier General, U.S. Army
Commander, Southwestern Division
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

“Building Strong…Army Strong!”

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