NSB Kings Bay Community
Fort Bliss commemorates African-American History Month
Story by MSG Alejandro Licea on 02/21/2019
FORT BLISS, TEXAS Soldiers, Families and civilian personnel from across Fort Bliss gathered at the Centennial Banquet & Conference Center Feb. 13 to celebrate African-American History month.
This year’s observance was themed “Black Migrations” and was hosted by the 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team.
Col. Michael J. Trotter, commander of the 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, expressed the importance of the event highlighting the significant contributions that African-Americans have made throughout the nation’s history.
“Every year we come together to celebrate the countless contributions and sacrifices made by African-Americans, many of whom lived through and surmounted the scourge of segregation, racial prejudice, and discrimination to enrich every fiber of American life,” he said. “Many African-Americans have served our nation at war leaving a mark of heroism in service to our nation.”
Trotter then introduced the keynote speaker for this year’s event Command Sgt. Maj. Willie T. Grandison. The Fort Jackson, S.C.-based leader spoke about the importance of this year’s theme and its impact across our nation.
“From 1916 to the early 1970s, the Black migration consisted of over six million African-Americans who had endured the life of oppressive conditions, lynchings, an unfair legal system, and a lack of education,” he said. “These people made a very brave decision to migrate to different cities in the North and West in search for better opportunities and just a simple way of life.”
Grandison expressed how the migrations from the Jim Crow-era South reshaped the demographic landscape of America, starting new lives in several cities and making them epicenters of cultural changes, artistic innovation, and thriving productivity.
“The children of the Black migration would have not had the chance to reshape professions had their families not left,” he said. “Because of their actions, African-Americans today have contributed in sports, music, literature, and arts.”
Grandison added that the significance of the Black migration had no true leader like the leaders who emerged during the Civil Rights movement like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Rosa Parks.
“During the Black migration there was no leader, there was no set date,” he said. “Millions of people just decided that enough was enough and they needed a better life and a better job.”
“That was the amazing thing about the black migration, and it lasted from 1916 to 1970,” he added. “Can you imagine something that long without a predominate leader? People were just moving.”
Grandison received a standing ovation following his remarks. Trotter, along with his senior enlisted advisor Command Sgt. Maj. Tony T. Towns, presented Grandison with a gift from the Fort Bliss community in appreciation for his participation in the event.