The Navy joins the nation in observing African American/Black History Month during the month of February. Established in 1926 as Negro History Week by Harvard historian Dr. Carter G. Woodson and the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History (ASNLH), the observation was expanded in 1976 by President Gerald R. Ford when he declared the entire month of February Black History Month. The 2012 Black History Month theme, “Black Women in American History and Culture,” underscores the importance of celebrating our diversity as a nation.
- Today more than 123,000 active duty, Reserve and civilian members of the Navy Total Force identify themselves as African American.
- The current Navy Total Force includes 22 active and Reserve flag officers, 559 active and Reserve master chief petty officers, and 17 members of the Senior Executive Service who identify as African American.
“As I look back at my 29 years in our Navy, the changes I’ve seen have been dramatic. I truly believe that every Sailor who enlists does so now with the knowledge that they can go as far as their initiative will take them. Our Navy, and our nation, hasn’t always been able to claim that. We must continue to learn from those times when we couldn’t claim such diversity. We must study those who blazed trails for us and continue to honor them for their courage and their sacrifice. Black History Month is a perfect time to do that.” – Command Master Chief April D. Beldo, 1st African American Female Command Master Chief of an Aircraft Carrier