Celebrating Black History Month: African Americans in Times of War
The City of West Park is proud to celebrate Black History Month this February. We are in celebratory remembrance of the millions of countless contributions of African descendants whose labor and sacrifices in education, music, science/technology, arts /entertainment, politics and social consciousness add to the making of this great nation.
During this month, the world and this city pause and absorb the tremendous plight and journey of a people, whose history begins with slavery, was devastated by segregation, and had to seek justice in a courthouse for their rights and equality. The 2018 theme, “African Americans in Times of War,” commemorates the centennial of the end of the First World War in 1918, and explores the complex meanings and implications of this international struggle and its aftermath. The First World War was initially termed by many as “The Great War,” “The War to End All Wars,” and the war “to make the world safe for democracy.”
Those very concepts provide a broad, useful framework for focusing on the roles of African Americans in every American war, from the Revolutionary War Era to that of the present “War against Terrorism.” Times of War inevitably provide the framework for many stories related to African American soldiers and sailors, veterans, and civilians. This is a theme filled with paradoxes of valor and defeat, of civil rights opportunities and setbacks, of struggles abroad and at home, of artistic creativity and repression, and of catastrophic loss of life and the righteous hope for peace.
The theme suggests that contemporary conditions, past and present, give us cause for critical pause in our studies and deliberations to consider the specific and unique issues faced by African Americans in times of war. These issues include opportunities for advancement and repression of opportunities during wartime; the struggle to integrate the military and experiences during segregation/apartheid and successful integration; veterans experiences once they returned home; the creation of African American Veterans of Foreign War Posts; cultures and aesthetics of dissent; global/international discourse; including impact and influence of the Pan African Congresses; the impact of migration and urban development; educational opportunities; health care development; the roles of civil rights and Black liberation organizations, including the Black Power movement and the Black Panther Party; the roles of African American businesses, women, religious institutions, and the Black press; in the struggle abroad and at home; the topographies and spaces of Black military struggle, resistance and rebellion; and how Black soldiers and/veterans are documented and memorialized within public and private spaces. These diverse stories reveal war’s impact not only on men and women in uniform but on the larger African American community.
We are even more proud to commemorate “African Americans in Times of War,” by recognizing the men and the women of our very own VFW Post 8195! Thank you for all you have done and continue to do!
Why is Black History important?
It’s important to remember, acknowledge and celebrate our history! We need to recall and remember to some degree the trials, the triumphs and the pride of a people who have not only overcome tremendous odds to survive, but also pursued and accomplished much with great success, even at overwhelming costs.
So remember we must. We are not only compelled to remember and tell our story, but we are strengthened as we do. We are strengthened as a people when we recall and review our history and our values. Lessons are learned by reflecting on our past, recalling the good as well as bad times and how we made it through as a community with a common cause — to survive and prosper.
We are strengthened as a city when we share the stories that hold value and significance to us. These stories help to define us; they say what is important to us. We have the responsibility to guard them, nurture them, not to compromise them, but most importantly, to share them.
We are strengthened as individuals when we recall and review our heritage. It gives us an opportunity to ask questions of ourselves: Who am I as a person? What am I made of? Where did I come from? What values either from my immediate or extended family or community has been instilled in me that I can call upon to stand, to act? What connects me to my inner circle? Are they a reflection of me, or am I reflecting them?
The month of February is the time set aside nationally to celebrate black history and culture. But we are not simply restricted to the shortest month of the year to celebrate our heritage. Our story is a long and growing one and can’t possibly be compacted to just 28 days. So create traditions, establish times to gather, share the stories and the songs before they are lost.
It’s important to remember for when the children ask, “What do these things mean?” we can proudly respond. It’s important to remember because, the “eyes of the future are looking back at us and they are praying for us to see beyond our own time. They are kneeling with hands clasped that we might act. That we might leave room for remembrance of the life that is destined to come.”
Remember to contact me at City Hall with your ideas, suggestions or concerns. I represent you and appreciate your input into the continued success of our beloved city. I can be reached at (954)329-8990 or via email at: firstname.lastname@example.org.