78th Signal hosts Black History Month observance
CAMP ZAMA, Japan (Feb. 25, 2015) -- The 78th Signal Battalion hosted a Black History Month observance Feb. 19 at the Camp Zama Community Activity Center, to recognize and honor the many achievements and aspects of African-American culture.
During the event, Soldiers and other community members paid homage to well-known African-American leaders such as Malcolm X and Thurgood Marshall, as well as recognized the struggles and successes of past and present African-American military leaders.
"I saw (Washington) D.C. burn when Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated," said guest speaker Nicholas Charles, a retired Army officer, the one thing that 'hit' me was the (U.S) military and its ability to retain order.″
After a brief video presentation, Charles, who also attended Howard University and minored in Black History, talked about his influences as a child.
"The tall military men dressed in the shiny black boots influenced me" said Charles.
Sgt. 1st Class Sedrick D. Culbreath, operations sergeant, assigned to 287th Signal Company, acted as the event's director; Culbreath spoke about the event's significance saying the "importance of today" was for all Soldiers, not just African-American Soldiers, to take part in learning about black history.
Culbreath said a few Soldiers in attendance spoke of never hearing of some of the black leaders whom were mentioned in the video presentation, and that "sparked" them into learning more.
Maj. Nicole Starr, a support operations officer, assigned to 35th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, said the speech given at the event was "insightful."
"I thought (the speech) tied the past back to where we are at today" said Starr.
Starr said when looking at the audience at the event, you see a lot junior enlisted Soldiers mixed with a lot of senior leaders. "It's probably three to four generations," all gathered together, said Starr, "so (the speech) was very current and on point."
Black military leaders not mentioned in the video presentation were a source of inspiration for a few Soldiers and some of the guests in attendance. Starr commented that while growing up, Army Gen. (retired) Collin Powell was a big inspiration to her and her father, who was also an Army officer.
Culbreath spoke of Sgt. Maj. James R. Jordan (retired) as one black military leader that "touched" his military career the most.
Culbreath said he spent half of his military career under the guidance and leadership of Jordan.
"He was always trying to make me go as far as I could," Culbreath continued speaking about Jordan, regardless of who I was or where I was from. He didn't know anything about me, yet (Jordan) attempted to help me enter Officer Candidate School," said Culbreath.
"(Jordan) was always there for the Soldiers," said Culbreath, "he was a senior non-commissioned officer, and from day one, he led from the front."
"If you are looking at the media, Hollywood and television for "black history" you won't find it," said Charles, "it requires research and reading."
"It is important to understand how much African-American (people) contributed to the making of America; this country would not be what it is today, had they not been a part of it," Charles said.