News | Feb. 25, 2022

2022 Carter G. Woodson Award winners announced during African American History program

By James Harless DLA Land and Maritime Public Affairs

Defense Supply Center Columbus’ workforce were provided the opportunity to virtually celebrate the 2022 Defense Federal Community Equal Employment Opportunity African American Employment Black History Month program “Soul Food & The African American Diet: From Slavery to Bondage,” via a live-streamed video  (CAC-enabled) that was broadcasted from the Operations Center Auditorium on Feb. 16.

Following the opening ceremonies, Defense Logistics Agency Land and Maritime Deputy Commander Kenneth Watson greeted those in attendance and thanked the committee for having him return for a second time to kick off one of the installation’s best attended events.

Watson continued by taking a moment to individually recognize several DLA Land and Maritime associates for their dedication and commitment to putting together such an excellent program. Watson recognized Lisa Griffin, for her rendition of the National Anthem at the beginning of the ceremony. He stated he always looks forward to her incredible performance. Additionally, Watson thanked Laura Leeper Branham, Penny Copp, Anita Jones, Kenneth Goodson, and all the volunteers who make events like this possible.

Since 1976, every U.S. President has officially designated February as Black History Month, a time to recognize and celebrate the achievements of African Americans and their central role in U.S. history. The event grew out of “Negro History Week,” the brainchild of noted historian Carter G. Woodson and other prominent African Americans.

Watson’s remarks highlighted that this year’s recognition marked the 46th year Black History Month has been annually recognized. But felt none was more powerful than 44th President Barack Obama’s 2016 recognition of Black History Month when he stated, “As we mark the 40th year of National African American History Month, let us reflect on the sacrifices and contributions made by generations of African Americans, and let us resolve to continue our march toward a day when every person knows the unalienable rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness."  

Watson concluded his remarks by introducing keynote speaker, Alonzo Burris II, a supervisor within DLA Land and Maritime Land Supplier Operations.

“Burris, an 18-year Department of Defense career employee who began his career as an intern with the DLA Pathways Internship Program, currently serves as DSCC Wellness Council Chair, a DLA chaplain liaison program volunteer, weekly bible study facilitator, African American Employment Program Committee member, and a Mentoring Connection Level 1 mentor, he is engaged,” Watson said.

“Please join me in welcoming Mr. Burris to the stage as we prepare to hear his personal story of transforming his life and overcoming health issues through change in diet and exercise, and his examination of the African American diet in correlation to heart disease, diabetes and medication dependency. I’m confident we will all find this presentation informational and inspiring,” Watson concluded.

Following a round of applause from those in attendance, Burris took the stage and began by sharing that it was an honor and privilege to share his personal story which led him to begin his ministry.

“On one side of my family it was all heart disease and diabetes, and on the other side everyone was dying from cancer,” Burris said. “I needed to be really strategic with what I did, but I actually ended up in the same boat. I found myself getting sicker, and sicker as I got older. As a minister what really bothered me was the fact that everyone who came up to me needed prayer for one of two things: a financial problem or a medical problem.”

The culmination of Burris’ family history, his own worsening health, and the volume of prayer requests related to poor health led him to begin his research on poor dietary habits. Burris ultimately found himself confronted with the impacts of the African American diet, often referred to as soul food.

“What I found was, we actually have a 400-year head start on eating low quality, low nutritional value food, because soul food started out as the food for the slaves,” Burris said. “Soul food is food that was born out of struggle and survival.”

Burris shared that the African American diet usually consists of too much red meat, dairy, refined sugars, highly processed foods, fried foods and refined grains; to which Burris claims are high in calories and low in nutritional value and which leads to malnutrition.

“The problem is malnutrition, but when I mention malnutrition, I think of someone who is frail or appears to be anorexic, but malnutrition just means you’re not getting enough nutrients that your body needs,” Burris said.

Burris shared that a poor diet has been proven to directly contribute to or cause many health issues that could have been prevented through regular exercise and a healthier diet. Burris believes that it is a personal choice, and the choice is ours to break the cycle of unhealthy living.

“The first thing you can do is evaluate your baseline health and habits, learn how to read your lab work, know your vital signs…understand how your body works,” Burris said. “Secondly, renew your mind, delicious doesn’t mean nutritious, we can make nutritious, delicious, but we can’t always make delicious nutritious. Lastly, medication is not the cure; it’s the band aid.”

Burris closed his presentation with one last piece of advice: “You can choose to eat like the slaves and continue to live in bondage or you can choose to break the chains, the choice is ultimately yours.”

Following Burris’ presentation, DLA Land and Maritime AAEP Executive Champion Kenneth Goodson was invited to the stage to present the 2022 Carter G. Woodson Awards.

The annual award recognizes two individuals who have made outstanding contributions to the African American community – one from the Central Ohio community and one from the Defense Federal community. Past recipients include former Columbus Mayor Michael Coleman, Congresswoman Joyce Beatty and Charles Tennant, the founder of Columbus’ Africentric School.

Goodson announced the winner of the 2022 Central Ohio Community Carter G. Woodson Award as Lance Humphrey, the senior pastor for Mt. Zion Missionary Baptist Church. Shatonna Missick received the 2022 Defense Federal Community Carter G. Woodson Award. Missick was an accountant with the Defense Finance and Accounting Service – Columbus during the nomination period, and now works for DLA Finance.

Following the conclusion of the 2022 Carter G. Woodson Awards, Goodson thanked all those in attendance at the event.

Robert Woods, a product specialist at DLA Land and Maritime served as the event emcee. Lisa Griffin a resolution specialist at DLA Land and Maritime performed the National Anthem and Laura Leeper Branham, an electronics engineer at DLA Land and Maritime delivered the invocation.