By Staff Sgt. Anishka Calder
1st Sustainment Command (Theater)
CAMP ARIFJAN, Kuwait – Service members and civilians came out in large numbers to celebrate the accomplishments of African Americans and highlight the contributions they made to the American society.
The Kuwait Area Support Group Equal Opportunity office hosted the event Feb. 20 at the Training and Activity Center. The event's theme, "Carter G. Woodson and the origins of multiculturalism," focused on Woodson's efforts in shaping an intellectual movement that educated Americans on African-American history and the black tradition, and on the importance of democracy and cultural diversity.
Woodson established the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History in 1915, and he, like other known scholars such as Randolph Bourne and W. E. B. Du Bois, believed that accepting other people's differences was an essential element in democracy.
"Dr. Woodson was convinced that the role of his own people in American history and in the history of other cultures was being ignored or misrepresented among scholars," said Col. George R. Fields Jr., the assistant chief of staff G-2 for the 1st Sustainment Command (Theater), and the speaker for the event. "Woodson realized the need for special research in the neglected past of the Negro."
The celebration came in the form of spoken word, songs, a hearty meal and various trivia that tested the event participants' knowledge of African-American culture.
"It was a true honor to be at a beautiful event honoring the numerous contributions made by African Americans," said Lt. Col. Michael O. Logusz, the chief civil military affairs officer in the 1st TSC, and a native of Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. "From the birth of our Revolutionary War, until present, because of their efforts, we are a better nation."
Sgt. Lavar McDowell, 23, of Logistics Task Force 10, came out of the event with a renewed sense of appreciation for his culture through the words spoken by Fields in his speech to the audience.
"Colonel Fields' speech was very inspirational. I liked how he incorporated all ethnic groups with the multicultural theme," said McDowell, a native of Washington, D.C. "It was a beautiful thing seeing Black History Month being celebrated even while we are deployed."
Fields told each attendant that they must take a look at themselves and see what they represent as a community, and that they each owe a debt to those who blazed a trail before them, to be a positive representative of their community.
"Each generation chooses its course and determines what they will add to their history," said Fields, 49, a native of Brooklyn, N.Y. "But if we are to become that great melting pot now called multiculturalism, it is up to each of us to reflect the best in ourselves and our community."
For Master Sgt. Samuel L. Jones, the non-commissioned officer in charge of network operations for the 1st TSC, the program was at the top of his list as being the best Black History Month celebration that he has been to.
"I enjoyed the way the poems that were recited told a story about famous African Americans," said Jones, a native of Philadelphia. "They (the performers) had the audience's attention and it made me feel great to be an African American."
"This program was not just to check the block to say that ASG Kuwait held a Black History program, but it educated everyone on African American achievement and history," added Jones. "Special thanks to the guest speaker, Colonel Fields, and to the equal opportunity committee for a job well done."
In his closing remarks, Fields thanked Dr. Woodson for this month of recognition and for passing the torch of multiculturalism to each person in attendance.
"Multiculturalism is not new, we are one community moving forward toward a tolerant, inclusive society," said Fields. "It's not a black people or white people, but all people."