NEWS | Feb. 26, 2016

“Hallowed Grounds” show homage to African American history

By Alia Naffouj US Army Garrison - Japan

CAMP ZAMA, Japan — The 2016 National African American History Month, also known as Black History Month, observance—themed “Hallowed Grounds: Sites of African American Memory”—was held Feb. 18, at Camp Zama’s Community Activity Center.

Hosted by the 88th Military Police Detachment of U.S. Army Japan, the event highlighted the achievements of African Americans and their roles in US history.

With the video presentation of No More: The Children of Birmingham 1963 and the Turning Point of the Civil Rights Movement, audience members had an in-depth look at the Children’s Marches, the bombing of 16th Street Baptist Church, and how events such as this impacted the 1963 Civil Rights Movement in  Alabama.

According to, Black History Month is a celebration to raise awareness of African Americans’ contributions to history.

Guest speaker, Dr. Maggie Rivers, chief operating officer assigned to 403rd Army Field Support Battalion-North East Asia, gave a brief history of how the national observance began. 

Created in 1926 by Carter G. Woodson, a noted African-American author and historian, the observance was known as Negro History Week— later in 1976, the Negro History Week became a month long observance known as Black History Month, and February was chosen to honor Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglas, said Rivers.

During her speech, Rivers highlighted the accomplishments of several African American leaders, Soldiers, authors and historians. She also talked about how the “hallowed” historical sites played their part in US history. 

Rivers gave information about sites that the National Park Service is responsible for preserving for African American history.  A few of these sites included the Underground Railroad locations, Seneca Village, Mother Bethel A.M.E Church and Frederick Douglass’ home.

In her closing remarks, Rivers highlighted President Barak Obama the first African American who serves as the 44th president of the United States. 

“His story is the American story—values from the heartland, middle class upbringing and a strong family. Hard work, education as the means to getting ahead and the conviction that a life so blessed should be lived in service to others,” said Rivers.

Maj. Nicole Starr, battalion executive officer, assigned to 88th Military Police Battalion, said although February is designated as the observance month, it doesn’t mean it has to be celebrated only during that time.

“We cherish it every day, 365 days a year, and let’s not just make February black history month but honor it throughout the year,” said Starr.