Freetown Village Singers, who specialize in traditional African-American music, perform in the Indiana National Guard’s Black History Month program, Wednesday, Feb. 20, 2013, at the 38th Infantry Division Armory in Indianapolis. Photo by Sgt. 1st Class Matt Scotten
By Sgt. 1st Class Matt Scotten
Indiana National Guard Public Affairs
INDIANAPOLIS – Fifty years ago, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. gave his famous “I Have a Dream” speech and immortalized himself into the annals of American history. The military was one of the first American organizations to really embrace the spirit of King’s dream. In fact, the U.S. military ordered the full integration of minorities nearly 20 years before King’s historic speech. Today, the military has one of the most aggressive diversity and equal opportunity programs in the nation.
In February, Americans all over the country celebrate the achievements of black Americans and their contributions to the betterment of the nation. Indiana National Guard Joint Force Headquarters personnel took time out of their jobs Wednesday, Feb. 20, 2013, to come together and celebrate Black History Month at the 38th Infantry Division Armory.
“African-Americans have fought in every American conflict since the Revolutionary War,” said Brig. Gen. Brian Copes, chief of the joint staff. “So this is a time when we make a specific point of looking back on those contributions and sacrifices to honor their many accomplishments.”
Indiana Army National Guard Brig. Gen. Brian Copes, chief of the joint staff, presented certificates of appreciation to Joseph A. Slash, president and CEO of the Indianapolis Urban League, and members of the Freetown Village Singers for their participation in the Indiana National Guard’s Black History Month program, Wednesday, Feb. 20, 2013, at the 38th Infantry Division Armory in Indianapolis. Photo by Sgt. 1st Class Matt Scotten
This year’s program consisted of a performance from the Freetown Village Singers, who specialize in traditional African-American music, as well as remarks from Joseph A. Slash, president and CEO of the Indianapolis Urban League.
“The military sets a great example for the rest of the country,” said Slash. “They make every opportunity available to all of their members based solely on the merit of the individual. You cannot ask for any better than that. It levels the playing field for everyone.”
At this year’s program all ranks were not only invited, but strongly encouraged to attend by their commanders. One of the attendees, Spc. Ronald Walker, an Indiana National Guard family programs specialist, participated by singing the national anthem at the opening of the program.
“This is important. You have to recognize the changes that have contributed to the success of our military through the years,” said Walker.
The Indiana National Guard takes pride in the diversity of the force. This holds true not only in February, but every month of the year.