The Fort Detrick community gathered at the Community Activities Center Feb. 13 for the annual Black History Month Celebration, this year hosted by the 21st Signal Brigade. The theme of this year’s event was, “Remembering Our Past While Shaping Our Future,” and several special guests were in attendance.
Lt. Col. Kevin Bivin, deputy commander of the 21st Signal Brigade, opened the ceremony saying, “The reason I am here is today is because of all the sacrifices of the people in the past have made so that we can be where we are today,” regarding the meaning of Black History Month to him.
The guest speaker for the celebration was Dr. Nicole Felton, founder and CEO of Fredericksburg Holistic Treatment Center. Felton holds a Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology and a Masters in Human Relations and is a Certified Professional Coach in the areas of diversity, military transitional coaching, human sexuality, trauma, eating disorders, mental health, and spirit of individuals, families, and organizations seeking assistance.
Felton is also an adjunct professor at Park University, teaching several psychology and sociology courses to include Minority Group Relations. She is also the president of the International Association of Eating Disorder Professionals, Fredericksburg Chapter, a nonprofit organization.
Also taking part in the event were students from the Ballenger Creek Elementary B.R.A.V.O Club. B.R.A.V.O, which stands for Bulldogs Raising Awareness of Veteran Organizations, is an after-school program at Ballenger Creek Middle that is comprised of 6th, 7th, and 8th graders.
B.R.A.V.O focuses on bringing awareness to the school and community regarding the U.S. military and veterans. B.R.A.V.O holds an annual Veterans Day dinner, participates in various local parades, sends letters and care packages to deployed troops, and participates in fundraisers that donate to charities, such as the Wounded Warrior Project and Operation Homefront.
The group Raised. Thru. Musiq., also called R.T.M., took part in the celebration with a dance presentation. R.T.M. consists of, Brandon Brownfield and Anthony Davis, a.k.a. Tj Black, and uses dance to send a positive message.
Black History Month began in 1926, and was known initially as “Negro History Week” and later as “Black History Month.”
Dr. Carter G. Woodson, the son of former slaves, spent his childhood working in the Kentucky coal mines and enrolled in high school at age 20. After graduating within two years, he went on to earn a Ph.D. from Harvard. Woodson was disturbed to find in his studies that history books largely ignored the black American population, and that when blacks did figure into the picture, it was generally in ways that reflected the inferior social position they were assigned at the time.
Woodson took on the challenge of writing black Americans into the Nation’s history. He established the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History in 1915, and a year later founded the widely respected Journal of Negro History. In 1926, he launched Negro History Week as an initiative to bring national attention to the contributions of black people throughout American history.
Woodson chose the second week of February for Negro History Week because it marks the birthdays of two men who greatly influenced the black American population: former President Abraham Lincoln, and abolitionist and former slave, Frederick Douglass.