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DAF leadership hosts Black History Month Observance event

  • Published
  • Secretary of the Air Force Public Affairs

ARLINGTON, Va. (AFNS)-- Department of the Air Force senior leaders hosted a virtual event Feb. 9 to celebrate the contributions of Black American Airmen and Guardians throughout the history of the department.  

Speakers included Secretary of the Air Force Frank Kendall, Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. CQ Brown, Jr., Chief of Space Operations Gen. John W. “Jay” Raymond, and Department of the Air Force Office of Diversity and Inclusion director, Marianne Malizia. 

“This is an opportunity for us to celebrate (and) also an opportunity to dedicate ourselves to continue a journey that America as a whole … has been on for a long time,” said Kendall. “Too much of the Black experience in America has been about inequality and injustice, but that journey has also been characterized by courage, persistence in the face of great odds, (and) intellectual and artistic brilliance … things that we can all, as Americans, be proud of and celebrate.” 

During this event, Airmen, Guardians, and DAF civilians shared their personal stories of overcoming adversity and also spoke about how the department works to provide a culture and lifestyle that enables people from all backgrounds to succeed. 

“I want to do things that are going to make a difference, so that’s my goal here with the Secretary, to make a difference for all our Airmen, no matter their background,” said Brown. “If there’s one thing I’ve learned, your opportunity and the opportunity for all of us is now. It takes determination and preparation for all of us to have an impact and change history, so when the opportunity knocks, you want to be fully ready.” 

The Department of the Air Force Black History Month event was a celebration of the heritage and achievements of Black American Airmen and Guardians. It was also an opportunity to reflect on adversity and other disparities that exist within the Air and Space Force and what is being done to address them. 

“We have a saying that ‘Space is hard,’ that space demands the best our nation has to offer and from the very beginning Black Americans have been absolutely critical to our nation’s success as a spacefaring nation,” said Raymond. "The Space Force is committed to building a diverse and inclusive service. It's the right thing to do, but it's also what the Space mission demands. We need the best and the brightest to meet challenges and protect our nation’s security."  

Concluding the event, there was a special presentation commemorating trailblazers, senior leaders, and other influential individuals who recently passed away. This offered attendees a chance celebrate those who have served as role models and influenced Airmen, Guardians, and the Department of the Air Force for years to come. 

"I can promise you as your Secretary, that I and the rest of our leadership will be laser focused on making sure our department is more inclusive for all races, genders and ethnicities,” said Kendall. “Undersecretary (of the Air Force Gina Ortiz) Jones, (General) Brown, (General) Raymond, and all the leadership team will strive to ensure our department-wide policies address the disparities we recognized in the disparity reports that we published. I hope that by recognizing, respecting, and understanding the different perspectives and experience that each Airman and Guardian brings to the fight, we will be able to find new and better solutions to the complex challenges we face as the 21st Century warfighting force.”  

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