SAN JOAQUIN, California –
Employees of DLA Distribution San Joaquin, Calif., celebrated Black History Month with a Feb. 25 event featuring Kurt Wilson, city manager of Stockton, Calif., as the keynote speaker. The theme of the event was “Hallowed Grounds: Sites of African American Memories.”
The master and mistress of ceremonies for the event were Rolette Counts Chikwendu of DLA Installation Support San Joaquin and Ted Hackney of the Transportation Division; and the invocation was led by William Johnson, DLA Installation Support San Joaquin.
Installation commander Marine Col. Keith Reventlow provided the opening remarks. He took the opportunity to share a short video with the audience on African Americans entering into the U.S. Marine Corps under Executive Order 8802 in 1941.
The video shared Montford Point Marine retired 1st Sgt. William “Jack” McDowell’s recollections of entering into the Marine Corps. He discussed overtures of racism and pointed out how everything worked out and he gained the respect of his fellow Marines. He concluded that today he is pleased to see the integration of all races working together and respecting one another.
Wilson opened up his keynote speech by talking about how people ask about the concept of black history and why the month is still celebrated. He stated that it is important to learn the history of the past and hear the stories of what the African American people endured. He said it is important to him to understand the past and learn what the African American people experienced.
“There are lessons that need to be taught, and that is one of the reasons why we celebrate Black History month,” said Wilson.
He went on to say that it would be foolish to ignore the past and society needs to evolve. Even though progress has been made, a lot still needs to be done, said Wilson.
He explained that it is not the older generation of today that would be best suited to instill the positive changes in regard to race; it is America’s younger generation that has more time and energy to achieve positive results.
“As we move forward, respecting the past, we need to make sure that we are looking forward to a brighter future, meaning we have to focus on our younger folks. If we focus our energy there, we will by far have the best return on our investment,” said Wilson.
In addition to the remarks, highlights of the program included Jairus Jones, son of safety specialist Francine Jones, delivering the Spoken Word; Lavern Smith singing a rendition of “America the Beautiful”; and Alan King of the Unitized Group Rations team singing a rendition of the Temptations’ “Just my Imagination.”