Black History is American History

  • Published
  • By Col. Michael Cabral
  • 926th Wing

Emory Malick…..Bessie Coleman…..Marlon Green….

As February draws to a close, so too does our annual celebration of Black History. Since its inception in 1970, Black History Month has served to focus our attention on the accomplishments, victories, and achievements Black and African-American peoples have had in the United States. February serves as a month to reflect on and celebrate these accomplishments as an indisputable, integral, and formative part of our nation’s history. For those of us in the Air Force, it is also a chance to recognize and reflect upon Black and African-American Airmen who have repeatedly broken barriers in making our Air Force what it is today.

David Harris…..Patrice Clark Washington…..Bobby Charles Wilks…

Historically, our Air Force has not always recognized the contributions of our Black Airmen. Tragically, many of them had to overcome significant hurdles, obstacles, and oppression in pursuit of the dream of flight, and to help form today’s United States Air Force. Despite these hurdles, Black and African-American Airmen have been a part of our Airpower history since the very beginning. Whether it was Willa Brown, the first African American woman to earn a U.S. pilot’s license and subsequently serve as a Civil Air Patrol Officer; Eugene Jacques Bullard, the first African American Military Combat pilot; or Christina Hopper, the first Black U.S. Air Force fighter pilot, Black and African American Airmen have played a vital role in developing, growing, and advancing aviation and our Air Force since the earliest days of flight. Their heritage, reflected in today’s Black and African American Airmen, is an indelible mark in the pages of history, worthy of February’s reflection and celebration.

General Benjamin O. Davis…..The Tuskegee Airmen…..Christina Hopper…

Today, our Black and African American Airmen continue as an increasingly important part of our nation’s Air Force, but it is a role that still faces unfortunate challenges. Across all ranks and leadership Black and African American Airmen remain under-represented and still face unnecessary and unfair obstacles in their careers. This past December, the Air Force highlighted these shortcomings in its racial disparity report, acknowledging the disproportionate rates of punitive personnel actions and uneven promotion and leadership opportunities offered to Black Airmen. We must do better.

James Banning…..Cornelius Coffey…..Robert Lawrence…

As recently as 2018, a congressionally mandated research report found that 71% of Americans are ineligible for military service due to education, physical health, obesity, or other obstacles. Additional studies by Department of Defense Recruiting Services identified that 52% of American families actively discourage their children from pursuing military careers. Given the disturbingly small percentage of remaining Americans, of all races, eligible for service, it becomes immediately clear our future Air Force must be reflective of the U.S. population at large. We must find a way to motivate, encourage, recruit, and retain Airmen from all walks of life, and we must find a way to inspire our traditionally under-represented populations to pursue exceptional careers in our Air and Space Forces.

Guy Bluford…..Mae Jemison…..General Daniel “Chappie” James

As the 926th Wing’s Diversity and Inclusion Chief, I am excited for us to begin our journey towards tackling these challenges. As many of you know, our conversations on Diversity and Inclusion began in earnest this past October, during our Mandatory UTA, with a series of Diversity focused events throughout the month. Since then, your Wing D&I team has drafted a D&I charter, begun identifying Outreach and Inclusion events, and defined our initial working groups to meet the challenges identified by both the Air Force, and the more specific needs of our Airmen. I’m excited as we continue this work, and look to inspire new, young Americans to join our team.

Robert B. Tresville…..Lt. Gen Stayce D. Harris…..CMSAF Thomas N. Barnes…

Black History month offers us the opportunity to focus on the accomplishments of these tremendous Airmen who came before us. They overcame overwhelming adversity to help make our Air Force the dominant Airpower service in the world, and we owe it to them to carry on that legacy. I encourage all of you to take a few moments, and learn their history, share their history, and use it to inspire young Black and African Americans seeking to join our Air Force, Air Force Reserves, and 926th Wing. Their stories are inspiring, incredible, and inextricably tied to our identity.

MGen Marcelite J. Harris…..Della H. Rainey…..General Charles “CQ” Brown…

Black History is American History. Black History is Air Force History. Black History is our history. Continue the conversation and please, join us as the 926th Wing Diversity and Inclusion team seeks to make our team better, for all of us.