Category Archives: Black History Month

Black History Month

Each February we reflect and celebrate the tremendous contributions of African Americans to our great Nation and military.

African Americans have defended our nation since the Revolutionary War and built a legacy of courage and professionalism by serving the U.S. Army with great honor and distinction, inspiring generations to come.

Today more than 190,000 African Americans serve in the Army’s Total Force. The U.S. Army is dedicated to leveraging the strength of our diverse force and ensuring equality for each individual member.

Black History Month serves as a tribute to African American men and women who have made significant contributions to our great Nation through military service, civil rights movements, sports, science, law, entertainment, engineering and many other fields.

The theme for this year’s observance is “Black Migrations.” The theme emphasizes the history of the major African American migration that spans from the early 1900’s to the 1970’s. During that time more than six million African Americans moved from southern states to northern areas with better paying industrial jobs as well as better social and political opportunities.

This major relocation has come to be known as the “Great Migration.” The movement resulted in huge demographic shifts across the United States. African Americans began to build a new place for themselves in public life. Many found doors opening that had been previously denied resulting in an explosion of opportunities in the arts, sports, science, technology, and politics.

This year’s commemoration also gives us the chance to reflect on the contributions of African-American Soldiers. Embracing and celebrating diversity makes our Army stronger, and we are dedicated to ensuring equality for all of our Soldiers, civilians and family members.

The Army simply could not accomplish its missions without the skill and dedication of all of its members. We find our true strength in our ability to bring together people of different races, cultures and faiths who share common values like duty, honor, selfless service, loyalty and respect.

I encourage each of you to take some time this month to learn more about African American military history and the Great Migration that helped shape our country. Attached is a slideshow from the Defense Equal Opportunity Management Institute that highlights influential African Americans from the Great Migration.  Below are a few free resources from the U.S. Army and Department of Defense.

Resources:

deomi.org

armydiversity.army.mil

Mission – People – Team work     PACESETTERS

Kevin S. Brown, P.E.
COL, EN
Deputy Commander
Southwestern Division, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

 


SWD Black History Month Spotlight: Vidal Gray

Vidal Gray is the Equal Employment Opportunity Strategic Advisor for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Southwestern Division Office of Diversity and Leadership.

The Office of Diversity and Leadership provides oversight, leadership, and policy guidance for development of a Model EEO Program at four District offices located at Fort Worth and Galveston, Texas; Tulsa, Oklahoma; and Little Rock, Arkansas. The Office of Diversity and Leadership works proactively to enhance the employment of women, minorities, veterans, and people with disabilities to reflect the rich diversity of the Nation and provides a full and fair opportunity for all employees, applicants and customers regardless of race, color, religion, national origin, gender, age, disability, sexual orientation, or genetic information.

Gray’s previous position was the Chief of EEO for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Fort Worth District. He was responsible for overseeing the district’s EEO Program.

Outside of work Gray enjoys spending time with his son, playing Texas Hold ‘em, and traveling. Last year he traveled to New Orleans, Las Vegas and the Bahamas. He hopes to go to Puerto Vallarta in 2018.

Gray, a four year USACE team member shared some of his thoughts on African American/Black History Month, his career, the military and more.

The African American Black History Month theme this year is “African Americans in Times of War.”

Q. What are your thoughts on this year’s Black History Month theme and the immeasurable impact African Americans have had on the history of the United States?

A. I think about how African American Soldiers have a long distinguished history in the United States military. I simply couldn’t be any prouder. This is a great way to honor our long storied involvement in the U.S. Military.

Q. Having served in the Army you’re part of that distinguished history. Can you talk about your service and how it helped shape who and where you are now?

A. The Army helped solidify my values and guide the way that I carry myself in every situation. I instinctively inherited values from my family but I didn’t realize how important they were until I joined the Army. Beginning the first day of basic training, the Army teaches you how live the seven Army Values. Those values are Loyalty, Duty, Respect, Selfless Service, Honor, Integrity, and Personal Courage. I’ve been out of the Army for several years now but still apply those values to my daily life as well as work to instill them in my son.

Q. Is there someone who inspired you to join the military or that you would call a mentor?

A. My brother convinced me to join the Army. He said let’s just sign up for two years of Active Duty and see what happens. I ended up serving for 22 years. My brother is still in the Army.

Q. What advice would you share with teenagers considering joining the military or civil service?

A. The military is a great opportunity to develop and explore. Things like pay and medical coverage are the tangible benefits you’ll receive, but I’m here to tell you the friendships and bonds you’ll make in the military will far exceed your expectations.
Keep an open mind, every situation isn’t perfect, but don’t quit.

Q. What has been your most memorable experience in the military or federal government that you’d like to highlight?

A. That’s tough for me to answer. I’ve been an extreme extrovert my whole life. I go full speed into every new situation expecting it to be the best. I feel like I’ve turned every assignment and situation into a memorable learning experience.

If I had to pick one shining moment it would be my selection for Special Operations Aviation Command because of how challenging the qualification assessment was.