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Naval Medical Logistics Command members celebrated Black History Month, Feb. 28, at their headquarters on Fort Detrick, with a special guest speaker from a local college.

This year's theme was "Black women in American History and Culture," so it was most appropriate that Professor Hoda M. Zaki, Director of African American Studies at Hood College, provided comments in recognition of the celebration.

Zaki shared her thoughts on voting rights in America and how they have changed from before 1960 until today. "There was a time in America when it was against the law for Blacks to vote. One would think that those practices were well behind us in 2012, but there are still locations that place obstacles in some voter's path," she said referring to the current 'No Photo No Vote' initiative spearheaded by republicans. "Many older Americans could be impacted by this law."

In addition to speaking on American voting rights, she also described voting in Kazakhstan, the last Soviet republic to declare independence from Russia in 1991. "About 75 percent of the voting age population there exercised their right to vote," she said.

"One interesting aspects of monitoring voting there was the importance with which it is viewed. Voting is celebrated as a festive affair and is one of the most important aspects of society during an election."

By comparison, according to the National Voter Turnout in Federal Elections from 1960 - 2010, 37.8 percent of voting-age Americans voted in 2010.

Interestingly, many Naval Medical Logistics Command participants were fascinated to learn that Kazakhstan features modern skylines with current, fashionable buildings, skyscrapers and amenities one might expect at a stylish resort. She likened it to Las Vegas.

Zaki received her Bachelor of Arts degree from the American University in Cairo, Egypt, and her Master of Arts and PhD from Clark Atlanta University, Atlanta, Ga. She is credited with establishing the African American Studies program at Hood College in 1994. Since 2001, Dr. Zaki has been a Frederick County election judge.

Naval Medical Logistics Command, headquartered on Fort Detrick, Frederick, Md., is the Navy Medicine Center of Logistics Expertise responsible to design, execute and administer individualized state of the art solutions to meet customer's medical materiel and healthcare service needs.