News: Black history runs deep for Georgia Guardsman
Story by Master Sgt. Roger Parsons
ROBINS AIR FORCE BASE, Ga.--For Staff Sgt. Barricia McCormick, a paralegal with the 116th Air Control Wing, a fifth grade family history project for her school revealed a rich heritage she found hard to believe.
“You know we’re related to Harriet Tubman,” shared McCormick’s mother.
“No we’re not,” said McCormick. “Don’t lie to me.”
It was during this conversation that McCormick learned her great grandmother and Harriet Ross Tubman, the African-American abolitionist and humanitarian responsible for the rescue of more than 300 slaves through the Underground Railroad, were first cousins.
Then her mother pulled out some family photos and for the first time began sharing a family history lesson that would affect the course of McCormick’s life.
“Up until that time I didn’t know a lot about Harriet Tubman,” shared McCormick. “In fact, Black History Month was just another month to me.”
“As I learned more about my family history,” continued McCormick, “I developed a sensed of family pride I didn’t have before.”
During the course of her school project, elders in McCormick’s family were able to trace their lineage as far back as one generation prior to Harriet Tubman.
“Being African American,” McCormick said, “you can only follow so far in researching your family history so it was exciting being able to trace back that many generations.”
“I was glad to learn about my heritage so I can pass it down to children I may have in the future,” she said.
McCormick’s school project uncovered more family history that would impact her future.
As she followed her family tree dating back to Tubman, the Georgia Air National Guardsman discovered that not only did Tubman assist the Union Army during the Civil War, but also nearly every male in her family, dating back to World War I, served in the military.
At 17, McCormick embarked on her own military journey enlisting in the Air National Guard to become only the second female in her family to serve in the armed forces.
Said McCormick, “the legacy that Harriet Tubman left, that has been carried on from generation to generation in my family, instilled a sense of hope in me and has helped me travel routes I wouldn’t have otherwise.”
Taking advantage of the educational opportunities afforded by her military service, McCormick went on to earn both a Bachelors and Master’s degree.
Recalling meeting a former Colonel from the Tuskegee Airmen, McCormick was taken aback when he thanked her for her service.
I asked, “why would you thank me for my service when I haven’t experienced anything compared to what you went through.”
The Colonels reply was simple, “we fought and served so you guys could do it.”
“People like that and especially other women of color that I’ve met who’ve had successful military careers inspire me to excel,” said McCormick.
Having completed her degrees, the enlisted Guardsman now has her sights set on earning a commission as an officer in the Georgia Air National Guard.
When she’s not serving as a traditional, one weekend per month Guardsman, McCormick wears a different uniform serving as a police officer for the City of Atlanta in her fulltime job.