Inside the Gates: Black History Month at JBER
In honor of Black History Month, Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson held an observance Thursday.
U.S. Army chaplain Lt. Col. Dr. Khallid Shabazz attended from Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington state. As the guest speaker, he discussed the crisis of education in the black community and the importance of standing up for what you believe in, regardless of what others think of you.
It was a message that resonated with service members at JBER, like Staff Sgt. Karen Nelson.
“That hit home,” she said. “I wanted to get up and scream and run laps around the church. It was beautiful. That was probably the one thing I’ll take away is that what other people think about me is not where my head needs to be.”
During his speech, Shabazz said, despite its name, Black History Month is not just about educating the black community. It’s about educating everyone about the black experience.
Staff Sgt. Tanesia Woody agrees.
“It’s about absolutely everyone,” she said. “It’s about knowing where we came from and knowing where we’re going and you need to be able to mesh the two in order to be able to figure that out.”
Woody says she works to overcome stereotypes others sometimes have about her.
“One of the things that I’ve dealt with a whole lot, just based on my name alone, is people expecting me to talk a particular way or act a particular way,” she said.
First Lt. Loyd Bradley saw the Black History Month event as a good way to share stories about the black community, past and present.
“It gives us a better perspective of who we are, who’s serving alongside of us and also gives us the opportunity to learn about history and how it’s affected us in the past and how it will affect us in the future,” he said.
Regardless of race, the soldiers and airmen at JBER have to work together. Nelson said events like this can help further that goal.
“We’re not in this alone,” she said. “Your brother, your sister is behind you. We are one team, one fight.”
Shabazz has a Ph.D., a doctorate and four masters degrees. He regularly speaks to other military members about the power of education and inspiring others to achieve.