African American Heritage Association reflects on past
ANDERSEN AIR FORCE BASE, Guam -- Members from the African American Heritage Association here took the time to reflect on African American History Month, which is observed annually in February.
"As an eight-year-old child, my father and grandmother would tell me stories about the race riots in Cleveland, Ohio, and explain the struggle for equality to me," said Staff Sgt. James Loveless, 36th Civil Engineer Squadron and AAHA vice president. "Hearing these stories was an eye opener for me and made me want to learn more about black history at a young age."
The group addressed that oppression was not only in the South, but also in the Midwest and along the West Coast.
"I grew up in the South, and African American History Month was a big deal," said Master Sgt. Beneria Loveless, 36th Medical Group and AAHA member. "There were activities going on every day of the month to celebrate."
In February 2012, Sergeant James Loveless and several Team Andersen Airmen reinstated the AAHA, writing new bylaws and replacing an old program that was unused for more than five years.
Since the new beginning of AAHA, they have supported several events, to include a Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. remembrance event, a Christmas give away at three local schools, a masquerade ball, and their Juneteenth event.
Juneteenth is the oldest known celebration commemorating the end of slavery in the U.S. On June 19, 1865, the Union soldiers, led by Maj. Gen. Gordon Granger, landed at Galveston, Texas with news the war had ended and the enslaved were now free.
"Juneteenth is very significant," Sergeant James Loveless said. "The day is just as celebrated as African American History Month."
2nd Lt. Tomika Smith, 36th Force Support Squadron and AAHA secretary, stated the base community brings African American history year-round, not just in the month of February.
The group explained why Airmen should join AAHA and take charge of their futures.
"African American History Month gives us a chance to reflect on the past and bridge the gap between the older generation and the future," Sergeant James Loveless said. "We want to recognize those pioneers who have paved the way through struggle to gain equal rights."
"Airmen should use the struggles from the past as motivation to be successful in the future and know we can achieve anything," he said.