Black History Month events include discussion on African Americans’ contributions to the military
Five veterans, including one who was trained by Charles Alfred Anderson, Sr., the chief flight instructor for the Tuskegee Airmen, will share their unique stories and highlight other African American contributions to the military during a panel discussion set for Feb. 24 as part of Palm Beach State College’s Black History Month celebration.
“Fueling the Force: African Americans’ Contributions to the Military,” sponsored by Student Activities in partnership with Florida Power & Light, will be held from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. in the Duncan Theatre. The event will also be livestreamed. Those who plan to attend in person in the Duncan must RSVP.
The panel discussion is one of several events being held across the College. Others include online trivia games; Zoom presentations on Black education and Black mental health issues; a Black American music appreciation performance at the Palm Beach Gardens campus; and a core music ensemble and viewing of a recorded theatrical performance titled “Unbought” at the Dolly Hand Cultural Arts Center Feb. 17. The Sankofa African American Museum on Wheels, which made a two-day stop in 2020, is returning to the Palm Beach Gardens campus for one day Feb. 24.
“African Americans have been instrumental to the development of and service to this nation,” said Army veteran and Boca Raton campus provost Van Williams, who coordinated the panel discussion and will serve as moderator. “We have a lot of interesting and heroic untold stories that need to be heard. These panelists are great examples of this service, and each has a unique story that we look forward to hearing.”
The panelists, who combined have served more than 100 years in the military, are retired U.S. Army Lt. Gen. Leslie Smith; retired U.S. Air Force Col. Herman Cole; retired U.S. Army Lt. Col. Kevin Jennings; retired U.S. Navy Lt. Cmdr. Cedric Henry; and U.S. Army veteran Sophia Eccleston.
- Smith served in the U.S. Army for more than 35 years and was the 66th Inspector General of the Army. His service includes several command and staff positions, including commanding the 83d Chemical Battalion and the 3d Chemical Brigade. He deployed to the Middle East for Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm, and to Iraq during Operation Iraqi Freedom.
- Cole served 26 years in the U.S. Air Force and is a Vietnam veteran. Cole’s assignments took him all over the globe and his responsibilities ranged from combat engineer/convoy commander in Vietnam to managing $3 billion in construction projects in Saudi Arabia. He was trained at the Tuskegee Institute by Anderson., who is known as the Father of African American Aviation.
- Jennings, the CEO and co-founder of Millennium Corporation, served more than 22 years in the U.S. Army Acquisition Corps, acquiring in-depth knowledge of the Army’s war-fighting doctrine.
- Henry, the president and co-founder of Millennium Corporation, served in the U.S. Navy for 20 years, developing expertise with various programs throughout the Department of Defense.
- Eccleston, a senior external affairs manager with FP&L, served more than four years in the U.S. Army and supported the peace keeping mission in Bosnia. She was also responsible for managing equipment and supplies for the 95th Military Police Battalion and the 224th Military Intelligence Battalion.
For more information about the panel discussion, call 561-862-4311. To see a complete list of Black History Month events, click here.