City celebrates Black Heritage Month
The theme of this year's Lawton-Fort Sill Black Heritage Month commemoration is "African Americans in Times of War," so it was appropriate that all city high school Junior ROTC programs had a hand in the kickoff ceremony.
Cadet Amira Rachid of Eisenhower High School was featured speaker and traced the service of African Americans in the armed forces from the American Revolution until today. Black men (and women) served the country faithfully, even when they were forced into segregated units and not accorded the recognition and benefits they deserved when they left the service. Black Americans repeatedly proved themselves by their service. The Buffalo Soldiers were the backbone of the Army on the western frontier. Soldiers like Henry O. Flipper who served for a time at Fort Sill when it was a cavalry post broke the color barrier at the U.S. Military Academy and became its first African American graduate. In World War II, black airmen trained at the Tuskegee Institute made a name for themselves once given a chance to show what they could do.
Despite great progress, Rachid said, there is still work to be done, and everyone should call out racism and bigotry when they see it.
The evening's color guard was provided by Lawton High, and Juliette Harvey and Ethen Ilidan of Eisenhower sang "We Are the World" and led the audience in "Lift Every Voice and Sing." Kristina Guerrero and Emily Rackley joined to read Maya Angelou's "On the Pulse of Morning," and Christopher Melendez-Gonzalez welcomed the participants.