NAVSUP Celebrates African American History Month

Naval Supply Systems (NAVSUP) Command Headquarters sponsored an African American History Month ceremony for its military and civilian personnel Feb. 20 in Mechanicsburg, Pa.

 The theme of this year’s program was “At the Crossroads of Freedom and Equality: The Emancipation Proclamation and the March on Washington.”

 Ola Joseph served as the guest speaker for the event.  He earned a bachelor’s degree in legal studies and a master’s degree in human resources management following his service in the U.S. Navy, and is the author of 11 books, including three bestsellers.  Joseph, who was born in a small fishing village in one of the poorest areas of Nigeria, arrived in the United States at the age of 32 with less than $100 in his pocket.IMG_2261

 NAVSUP Assistant Deputy Commander for Supply Operations and Logistics Policy Will Port began the program by introducing Joseph as a testimony to what can be achieved when you believe in yourself and never give up.

 Joseph began his session by noting the significance of 2013 as the 50th anniversary of the 1963 March on Washington, and the 150th anniversary of the 1863 Emancipation Proclamation.

 He recited segments of the “I Have a Dream” speech, delivered by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in August 1963.  He added, “Are we there yet, no, but we are making progress.  Are we living the dream?  I would say ‘yes.'”

 Joseph commented on President Barack Obama’s second inauguration when he was sworn in using two Bibles — one in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and the other in honor of President Abraham Lincoln.  “Because of the actions of people in the past, we are here today,” he explained.  “We make progress by working together and pulling together.  What we do today will be talked about 50 years from now.”

 “You cannot separate the story of the United States from the story of African Americans,” Joseph added.  “They are interwoven.”

 In closing, Joseph shared a story of a young man discovering a bag of clay balls while cave exploring and not seeing their true beauty and value until seeing what was inside when they broke open, revealing gems.  “Always try to look beyond the clay on the outside to the beauty inside, to see people the way God sees them,” Joseph said in closing.

 Bonnie Pyett, Deputy Director for Joint Engagement and the African American History Month program coordinator, closed the program with additional African American historical information and commented that she remembers the March on Washington in 1963 and her desire to be a part of it.

 Rear Adm. Mark Heinrich provided the final comments.  “African American/Black History Month is a time to celebrate the rich culture and vibrant history of African Americans, whose struggle for equality transformed a nation,” he explained.  “Among those equalities was the right to serve in the military.  Serving first with state and continental navies, African American Sailors’ contributions have been and continue to be a key element to our Navy’s fighting forces around the world.”

 

By Peggy Hoffman

 NAVSUP Corporate Communications