Black History Month in the KMC

The year 2013 marks two important anniversaries in the history of black Americans and the U.S. Marking the sesquicentennial of the Emancipation Proclamation and the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington, the Association for the Study of African-American Life and History focuses on the historical periods tied to these two events.

Just as the Emancipation Proclamation recognized the coming end of slavery, the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom signaled the days of legal segregation in the U.S. were numbered.

On Jan. 1, 1863, the Emancipation Proclamation set the U.S. on the path to end slavery. A wartime measure issued by President Abraham Lincoln, the proclamation freed relatively few slaves, but it fueled the fire of the enslaved to strike for their freedom. Those in bondage increasingly streamed into the camps of the Union Army, reclaiming and asserting self-determination. The result, as abolitionist Fredrick Douglass predicted, was the war for the Union became a war against slavery. The actions of both Lincoln and the slaves made clear that the Civil War was a struggle between the forces of slavery and emancipation.

In 1963, a century later, America once again stood at a crossroads. Nine years earlier, the U.S. Supreme Court had outlawed racial segregation in public schools, but the nation had not yet committed itself to equality of citizenship.

On Aug. 28, 1963, hundreds of thousands of Americans, blacks and whites, Jews and gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, marched to the Lincoln Memorial in the continuing pursuit of equality. It was here Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his celebrated “I Have a Dream” speech.

To celebrate and honor Black History Month, the 86th Airlift Wing Black History Month Observance Committee will host the following events:

• The “Taste of Soul” — 2 p.m. Saturday in the Kaiserslautern Military Community Center food court. This event offers free food tastings, cultural displays and family entertainment. For more information, call Charlonnie Chaney at 480-6822.

• The Kings of KMC 3-on-3 basketball tournament — 9 a.m. Feb. 8 in the Ramstein Southside Fitness Center. Entry fee: donate one article of clothing (proceeds go toward communities in Africa). For information, call Ivan Thomas at 478-4533 or 06371-405-4533.

• The Black History Month Luncheon — 11 a.m. Feb. 19 in the Ramstein Officers’ Club with guest speaker Command Chief Master Sgt. Jack Johnson Jr., senior enlisted leader of U.S. Africa Command. Tickets are $12 for club members and $15 for non-club members. For more information, call Tracey Brumfield at 0170-387-6858 or 06371-464-239

• Library readings — 10 a.m. Thursday and Feb. 14, 21 and 28 in the Ramstein Library. There will be free book readings and craft interaction for children up to 4 years old. For more information, call Melanie McKinney at 480-2847.

(Courtesy of the Association for the Study of African American Life and History. Visit for details.)