Commit to understanding black history

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“Make a career of humanity … and you will make a greater person of yourself, a greater nation of your country, and a finer world to live in.”

This quote from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., in itself summarizes the philosophy and actions he took, as he lived and gave his very life for the equality of all mankind. 

His legacy bears the mark of a high call to strive toward making peace, justice for all, quality and freedom a reality in a world that has too long embraced the tenets of hatred, animosity, bigotry and persecution. Today, we as a society are charged with the task of fulfilling Dr. King’s vision and push forward with pride to keep the “dream” alive. 

During his recent visit, Maj. Gen Richard Clarke, vice commander of Air Force Global Strike Command, shared that Dr. King’s vision became a reality because of his commitment. This month, we take the opportunity to commit to a better understanding of the African-American culture and the contributions made to our great nation. We recognize contributors such as:

Henry Blair — He was the first African-American to receive a patent for an invention in the United States. He was born in 1804 and received a patent for a corn planting machine. Two years later, he received a patent for a cotton planting machine. Since slaves could not receive patents, it is most likely that Henry Blair was free.

Charles Richard Drew — He was born in 1904 and pioneered techniques for preserving blood, making it possible to save thousands of American and allied soldiers during World War II. His work on “banked blood” gained him attention from the British government, which asked him to set up their first blood bank. He later directed the American Red Cross and became the chief surgeon at Howard University.

Rosa Parks — Inextricably connected to the Civil Rights Movement, she gave no resounding speech, led no demonstrations and wrote no petition. What she did was simple and electrifying. On Dec. 1, 1955, she refused to move and allow a white man to take her seat for no other reason than her feet being tired and her soul refusing to let her move. She sparked the Montgomery bus boycott that was felt across the world.

Lorraine Hansberry — She was born in 1930 and died in 1965. Yet within the short span of her life, she made history by becoming the first African-American dramatist to win the New York Drama Critics Circle in 1959. Her play “A Raisin in the Sun” became an international success and was the first major play by an African-American to appear on Broadway.

George R. Carruthers — One of two naval researchers who helped develop the Apollo 16 lunar surface ultraviolet camera/spectrograph — which was placed on the moon in April 1972 — he received the Exceptional Scientific Achievement medal from the National Aeronautical Space Agency for the work.

The list goes on, but the true power behind Black History Month is people; people who can come together with an understanding of cultural diversity and an acceptance of the power that lies within diversity.

February provides an opportunity for the community to participate in events that educate and recognize the contributions of African-Americans. I hope to see you at some of the events.