Black History Month

A Tuskegee Airman crew poses in front of a B-25. (Courtesy photo)
A Tuskegee Airman crew poses in front of a B-25. (Courtesy photo)

We are a nation of change makers, a nation of those who stand for equality and freedom. And each February during Black History Month, we honor the black Americans who came before us and still serve now, standing for their dreams and rights, and making a difference for us all.

Originally founded as "Negro History Week" in 1926 by black American historian and author Carter G. Woodson, it recognized the contributions of African Americans to the country and fostered a better understanding of the black American experience.

In 1976, President Gerald Ford issued the first African-American History Month proclamation, calling upon the American people to celebrate the event each February.

Since 1986 "National Black (Afro-American) History Month" has lived as a time set aside by law to recognize the contributions of African-Americans to our nation. stands to celebrate and honor the African-American experience and sacrifice -- see the videos and features below, and help celebrate with us.

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  • Daniel "Chappie" James Jr., pictured here serving as a fighter pilot with a P-51 during the Korea.War, in 1975 because the first African American to reach the rank of four-star general and died shortly after his retirement in 1978.  His son, Daniel James III, also served in the Air Force and Air National Guard rising to the rank of lieutenant general, and becoming the first African-American to take command as director of the Air National Guard before retiring in 2006.  (U.S. Air Force)
  • In 1966 Merle Smith, right, became the first African-American graduate of the Coast Guard. As a cutter captain in Vietnam he not only received the Bronze Star Medal, but also because the first African-American to command a federal vessel in a combat situation (U.S. Coast Guard)
  • Olivia Hooker, pictured here at 98 years old, was the first African American woman to enter the U.S. Coast Guard. Also the last living survivor of the 1921, Tulsa, Oklahoma Hooker is now 102 years old.
  • Maj. Shawna Kimbrell served as the Air Force’s first black female fighter pilot (DoD/Benjamin Rojek)
  • Starting in 1989, Gen. Colin Powell, left, served as the first black chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. In 2001 he made history again as the first black U.S. Secretary of State. (DoD photo)
  • President Barack Obama was the first black U.S. president – and the Pentagon’s first black Commander in Chief. (Defense Department/Marianique Santos)
  • Doris Miller, Navy Cross recipient
  • Adm. Michelle Howard, right, lends a hand to Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus as he and Wayne Cowles, Howard's husband, put four-star shoulder boards on Howard's service white uniform during her promotion ceremony. (U.S. Navy photo)