Members of the Defense Logistics Agency Troop Support gathered virtually to celebrate African American families during its annual Black History Month event Feb. 17.
Guest speaker, Bruce Johnson, veteran Washington D.C. broadcast journalist, explored the event’s theme of “The Black Family: Representation, Identity and Diversity” by discussing his own family’s history and how it molded him into who he is today.
“I’m going to start with my family’s story,” Johnson said. “You can find everything from today’s theme in my family’s story, because it’s the story of African Americans in America.”
Johnson spoke about his family’s history in the U.S., from being brought over on slave ships, to the “dirty” alleyway home of his great-grandmother he loved to visit as a child, to the positive influence his mother was on him and his siblings.
“My mother was the first in the family to graduate high school,” Johnson said. “And then, at 52, after raising her children, she went and graduated from the University of Louisville. She was a living example of how to be.”
Johnson, who has won 21 Emmys during his more than 40 years as a broadcast journalist, said his mother’s encouragement and sacrifices were what enabled him to be the first person in the family to graduate college. His graduation, in turn, became a positive influence on other members of the family.
“Where one goes, the others follow,” he said. “When one graduates college, now everyone has the right to graduate college. Everybody can see the path now.”
Army Brig. Gen. Gavin Lawrence, DLA Troop Support commander, agreed that the achievements of family members can open up new avenues of success.
“The stories and traditions that have passed down through generations of family have shaped who we are and how we see ourselves,” Lawrence said. “And each milestone reached by previous generations, has broadened our assessments of what we are able to accomplish and become.”
Johnson closed his remarks by encouraging others to be a positive influence within their families and communities.
“We have to give back, and you do that by being a living example,” he said. “People don’t remember what you say, they remember what you do and how you make them feel. That doesn’t mean you don’t make mistakes. Everyone makes mistakes. But you make amends for your mistakes and you move on, and you keep giving back.”