Air Force celebrates African American History Month

  • Published
  • By Air Force News Service
  • (AFNS)
Each February, the country recognizes African American History Month to highlight the struggles and triumphs of millions of American citizens during some of the most devastating obstacles in the nation's history -- slavery, prejudice, poverty -- and looks at their contributions to the nation's cultural and political life.

This has particular interest for those in the American military as for the first time in history, the U.S. armed forces are led by an African-American commander in chief.

On June 1, 1949, Air Force officials published regulations ending segregation, thus becoming the first of all U.S. military service branches to complete integration of African-American personnel into all-white units.

The first celebration to commemorate the contributions to the nation made by people of African descent occurred Feb. 12, 1926. For many years, the second week of February was set aside for this celebration to coincide with the birthdays of abolitionist and editor Frederick Douglas, as well as President Abraham Lincoln. In 1976, as part of the nation's bicentennial, the week was expanded into Black History Month. Since then, U.S. presidents proclaim February as National African-American History Month.