United States Department of Defense United States Department of Defense

African-American History Month: Civil Rights in America - February 2014

Every American can draw strength from the story of hard-won progress, which
not only defines the African-American experience, but also lies at the heart of our Nation as a whole.
President Barack Obama, Jan. 31, 2014
Presidential Proclamation

Timeline

  • 1770

    Crispus Attucks

    On March 5, 1770, Crispus Attucks and several other patriots from Boston protested the British curbing of civil liberties in their Massachusetts colony.

  • 1775-1783

    American Revolution

    Thousands of black soldiers, both slave as well as free, from all 13 colonies fought in the Continental Army during America's war for independence from Great Britain. Many also served in state militias.

  • 1812-1815

    War of 1812

    During the War of 1812, black soldiers served in both integrated regiments as well as in all-black regiments. Many black soldiers served with courage and distinction, both on land and at sea.

  • 1814

    Free Men of Color

    Many black soldiers fought in the Battle of New Orleans. Slaves, as well as free black soldiers, constructed forts around the city in preparation for the impending British invasion. Also, blacks comprised the majority of two battalions and three companies, collectively referred to as Free Men of Color, as well as serving in integrated Louisiana militia units.

  • 1861-1865

    Civil War

    When Union troops invaded Confederate states, thousands of black slaves flocked to Union camps for a chance to fight. Many of these men were unofficially allowed to enlist in the Union Army. After President Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation on Jan. 1, 1863, black soldiers were officially allowed to participate in the war.

  • 1863

    Frederick Douglas

    Frederick Douglas, best known as a black orator and abolitionist, helped to establish the all-black 54th Massachusetts Regiment of the Union Army. On Aug. 13, 1863, Douglas was directed by the Secretary of War to travel from his hometown of Rochester, N.Y., to Vicksburg, Miss., "to assist in recruiting colored troops."

  • 1866-1891

    Indian Campaigns

    After the Civil War, settlers moved westward in increasing numbers. When fighting broke out with Indians, the Army was often called in to quell the uprisings.

    In 1866, Congress authorized the formation of regiments of black soldiers: the 9th and 10th Cavalry Regiments and the 24th, 25th, 38th, 39th, 40th and 41st Infantry Regiments to deploy in the West to fight the Indians. The infantry regiments were later consolidated into the 24th and 25th Infantry Regiments.

  • 1867

    Buffalo Soldiers

    Black soldiers fought so bravely and ferociously during a battle with Cheyenne warriors in 1867, that the Cheyenne nicknamed them "Wild Buffalo."

    Over time, the term "Buffalo Soldiers" was used for all black soldiers who served during the Indian wars. Between battles, the "Buffalo Soldiers" built roads and telegraph lines, escorted supply trains and guarded stagecoach and mail routes.

    In 1868, Cathay Williams became the first black female Buffalo Soldier - she disguised herself as a male.

    Henry O. Flipper was the fifth African-American to be accepted to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y., and in 1877 became the first African-American to graduate from the academy. He was the first African-American to be commissioned in the Army, or any other branch of the U.S. military. He also became the first African-American officer to command African-American soldiers in the Army when he assumed command of Troop A, 10th Calvary Regiment, also known as the Buffalo Soldiers, at Fort Sill, Okla. Before Flipper took command, all African-American units were commanded by white officers.

  • 1898

    Spanish-American War

    Black soldiers of the 9th and 10th Cavalry Regiments and the 24th and 25th Infantry Regiments fought in the Spanish-American War. The four regiments comprised 12 percent of the total force during the invasion of Cuba.

    Many of these soldiers were veterans of the Indian Wars and some were Civil War veterans. Another 2,000 served in the Navy - they comprised 7.6 percent of all sailors.

  • 1917-1918

    World War I

    In 1917, the United States entered World War I. Despite knowing that freedom to serve their country did not in itself guarantee full participation in American society, thousands of black Americans answered the call to duty through service in the Army.

    The Army operated under a policy of racial segregation and blacks were commonly relegated to supply and labor jobs. There were, however, active black combat units that made notable contributions.

  • 1941-1945

    World War II

    In World War II, the U.S. war effort was determined to defeat fascism and to defend freedom. For black Americans, freedom in its fullest form was an ideal that was desired not only abroad, but on the homefront as well. Even though in the U.S., many blacks were treated as second-class citizens, black soldiers still served unyieldingly for their country.

  • 1941

    Tuskegee Airmen

    On July 19, 1941, the U.S. Army Air Corps began training black pilots. The 926 members of the famed Tuskegee Airmen (comprised initially of the 99th Pursuit Squadron and later the 332nd Fighter Group) were trained for combat in World War II at the Tuskegee Institute in Alabama. Known for their red-tailed P-51 Mustang fighters, the Tuskegee Airmen never lost an escorted plane to the enemy during the course of World War II, during which they carried out hundreds of escort missions.

  • 1950-1953

    Korean War

    New opportunities began to emerge for black soldiers while serving in the Korean War. In October 1951, the all-black 24th Infantry Regiment, which had served during the Spanish-American War, World War I, World War II and the beginning of the Korean War, was disbanded. This eliminated the last lingering formal practice of segregation in the Army. Black soldiers now served in all combat service elements and were involved in all major combat operations, including the advance of United Nations Forces to the Chinese border.

  • 1959-1973

    Vietnam War

    The 1960s marked a transformation of the realities of discrimination and political equality for blacks with the passing of the Civil Rights and Voting Rights Act (1964 and 1965, respectively). The 1960s also marked the full engagement of the United States in the war in Vietnam. In support of this campaign, black soldiers continued the tradition of serving the Army with distinction.

  • 1979

    Army Brig. Gen. Hazel W. Johnson-Brown

    Brigadier General Hazel W. Johnson-Brown became the first black woman general officer and the first black Chief of the Army Nurse Corps.

  • 1990-1991

    Persian Gulf War

    The Persian Gulf War developed out of the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait on Aug. 2, 1990. The international armed intervention followed in January 1991. Black soldiers - making up about 22 percent of the total Army - followed a rich tradition of honorably serving in the U.S. Forces.

  • 2001-2008

    Global War on Terror

    Since the Armed Forces were integrated in 1948, the Army has been committed to racial diversity and equal opportunity to all soldiers. In the past several years, the Army has become even more proactive to recruit and train a diverse force since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. In 2003, there were approximately 254,000 blacks serving the Army as an Active-Duty, Reserves or National Guard soldier, or as an Army Civilian, according to the U.S. Office of Army Demographics. This was 20.3 percent of the total Army. In the general U.S. population, 12.7 percent of 18 to 55-year-olds are black.

  • 2009-Present

    Present Day

    As of 2012, across all services, the U.S. military was comprised of 16.4% African-Americans. African-Americans continue to serve their country with honor and dignity.

    On Jan. 29, 2009, Barack Obama was sworn in as the 44th president of the United States. As president, Obama also is commander in chief of all U.S. forces.

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Scholar Notes African-American Officers' Challenges

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Army CIO Becomes African-American First

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Videos

Military's African American Legacy Honored

Military's African American Legacy Honored

Videos

Buffalo Soldiers: The Unknown Army

Buffalo Soldiers: The Unknown Army

More Video
Download the DEOMI 2014 African-American/Black History Month Poster

Download the DEOMI 2014 African-American/Black History Month Poster

Profiles

Navy Vice Adm. Michelle Howard

Navy Vice Adm. Michelle HowardU.S. Navy Vice Adm. Michelle J. Howard is poised to become the service’s first woman and the military’s first African-American woman to achieve four-star rank. Howard is currently the deputy chief of naval operations for operations, plans and strategy, and will be assigned as the vice chief of naval operations. More

Army Master Sgt. Latisha Turner

Army Master Sgt. Latisha TurnerArmy Master Sgt. Latisha Turner received the U.S. Army's Federally Employed Women Meritorious Service Award, which honors leaders who have made significant contributions to diversity, equality and the advancement of women in their organizations. More

Air Force Maj. Marc Fulson

Air Force Maj. Marc FulsonAir Force Maj. Marc Fulson leads a mentorship group of African American Air Force Academy graduates, and is passionate about eliminating barriers based on race, color, gender, national origin and religion in the Air Force, DOD, the United States and around the world. More

Army Civilian: Mr. Ricky Peer

Army Civilian: Mr. Ricky PeerRicky Peer is a two-time recipient of the Commander’s Award for Civilian Service, recognized for developing the Command's first Student Career Experience program with Historically Black Colleges and Universities and Hispanic Serving Institutions. More

Air Force Civilian: Jacqueline Toussaint

Air Force Civilian: Jacqueline ToussaintJacqueline A. Toussaint is recognized for her leadership of highly successful workforce solutions for the recruitment and retention of women and minorities in science and engineering. More

Navy Vice Adm. Michelle Howard
NAACP Honors U.S. Fleet Leader

Navy Vice Adm. Michelle Howard

Vice Adm. Howard is a 1978 graduate of Gateway High School in Aurora, Colo. She graduated from the United States Naval Academy in 1982 and from the Army’s Command and General Staff College in 1998, with a Masters in Military Arts and Sciences.

Howard’s initial sea tours were aboard USS Hunley (AS 31) and USS Lexington (AVT 16). While serving on board Lexington, she received the secretary of the Navy/Navy League Captain Winifred Collins award in May 1987. This award is given to one woman officer a year for outstanding leadership. She reported to USS Mount Hood (AE 29) as chief engineer in 1990 and served in Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm. She assumed duties as first lieutenant on board the USS Flint (AE 32) in July 1992. In January 1996, she became the executive officer of USS Tortuga (LSD 46) and deployed to the Adriatic in support of Operation Joint Endeavor, a peacekeeping effort in the former Republic of Yugoslavia. Sixty days after returning from the Mediterranean deployment, Tortuga departed on a West African training cruise, where the ship’s Sailors, with embarked Marines and U.S. Coast Guard detachment, operated with the naval services of seven African nations.

She took command of USS Rushmore (LSD 47) on March 12, 1999, becoming the first African American woman to command a ship in the U.S. Navy. Howard was the commander of Amphibious Squadron Seven from May 2004 to September 2005. Deploying with Expeditionary Strike Group (ESG) 5, operations included tsunami relief efforts in Indonesia and maritime security operations in the North Arabian Gulf. She commanded Expeditionary Strike Group Two from April 2009 to July 2010. In 2009, she deployed to CENTCOM theater, where she commanded Task Force 151, Multi-national Counter-piracy effort, and Task Force 51, Expeditionary Forces. In 2010, she was the Maritime Task Force commander for BALTOPS, under 6th Fleet.

Her shore assignments include: J-3, Global Operations, Readiness and executive assistant to the Joint Staff director of Operations; deputy director N3 on the OPNAV staff; deputy director, Expeditionary Warfare Division, OPNAV staff; senior military assistant to the secretary of the Navy; Chief of Staff to the director for Strategic Plans and Policy, J-5, Joint Staff, and deputy commander, US Fleet Forces Command.

She currently serves as Deputy Chief of Naval Operations for Operations, Plans & Strategy (N3/N5)

Army Master Sgt. Latisha Turner

Army Master Sgt. Latisha Turner

NAME: Latisha L. Turner, Master Sergeant, USA

DUTY TITLE: Area II Lead Sexual Assault Response Coordinator (SARC) at Yongsan Army Base, Korea. As the Area II SARC, MSG Turner serves as the primary point of contact for Area II SHARP Program Executive Agent and Area Senior Responsible Officer (SRO). She executes overall management of sexual harassment and assault awareness, prevention, and training for Area II. MSG Turner also executes all tasks in implementing and assessing the effectiveness of the SHARP program.

EDUCATION: Warrior Leader Course, Advanced Senior Leader Course, Senior Leader Course, First Sergeant Course, Contracting Officer’s Representative Course, Level 1 Acquisition Certified by the Defense Acquisition University, Phase I of Battle Staff Course, Combat Lifesaver, Field Sanitation, EOR Course, EOA Course, EEOC Counselors Course, Special Emphasis Program Manager’s Course, Equal Opportunity Specialist Course, Justice Center of Atlanta Mediation Course and the SHARP Certification Course. Formal education includes: Associates Degree in Criminal Justice; Bachelors Degree in Criminal Justice; Masters Degree in Human Relations and Criminal Justice. She is also pursuing a doctorate degree in Organizational Development and Leadership.

AWARDS: Bronze Star Medal, Defense Meritorious Service Medal, Meritorious Service Medal, Army Commendation Medal, Joint Service Achievement Medal, Army Achievement Medal, Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Korean, Defense Service Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal, Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, NCO Professional Development Ribbon, Army Service Ribbon, Overseas Service Ribbon and the NATO Medal. She is the 2007 and 2008 Army Materiel Command’s Equal Opportunity Advisor of the Year. She also the recipient of the 2013 Federal Employed Women’s Meritorious Award and 2013 Blacks in Government Award.

PERSONAL/PROFESSIONAL INFORMATION: MSG Turner joined the Army Jan. 26, 1994 in Richmond, VA, as a 92A, Automated Logistical Specialist. Her assignments include PLL Clerk/ Shop Office NCOIC at Schofield Barracks, Hawaii; Warehouse NCOIC at Ft. Stewart, Ga.; Warehouse NCOIC/Material Management NCO at Camp Humphreys, Korea; Platoon Sergeant at Ft. Campbell, Ky.; Equal Opportunity Advisor with the Army Sustainment Command at Rock Island, Ill; First Sergeant at Ft. Hood, Texas and Equal Opportunity Instructor at Defense Equal Opportunity Management Institute. She has completed a combat tour in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and a tour in Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. MSG Turner enjoys spending time with her family and traveling in her free time.

Air Force Maj. Marc Fulson

Air Force Maj. Marc Fulson

Major Marc Fulson is the Deputy Chief, Independent Readiness Review Team, Engineering Directorate, Space and Missile Systems Center, Los Angeles Air Force Base, CA. He is in charge of independent technical assessments of 14 programs including satellites, launch vehicles and ground systems that support military and civilian space launches. He reports his findings directly to the Program Executive Officer for Space and provides a go/no-go recommendation prior to launch and Operational Acceptance tests. His efforts enabled the successful launch and commanding of two critical communications and navigation satellites valued at more than $4B that directly support our frontline troops.

Fulson completed his Master of Arts in Professional Counseling from Liberty University in March 2013 with a grade point average of 3.75. During this award period he completed a 760-hour internship program at the Las Vegas Renewing Life Counseling Center serving predominately low-income Hispanic and African American populations. As a counselor he helped 41 individuals and their families work through extremely challenging times in their lives such and divorce, drug addiction, and homelessness. Specifically, Fulson helped three suicidal clients find coping methods to get them through difficult times and prejudices they may encounter in the future.

Fulson is a Chief Coordinator for a mentorship group that connects, mentors and mobilizes 248 African American Air Force Academy graduates. The organization is committed to character and leadership development, mentorship and community outreach. As the Chief Coordinator, Fulson actively connects cadets and new officers with potential mentors. In 2012, 145 cadets and new officers were connected with mentors. In addition, he led the group’s effort to spread awareness by hosting an annual conference and initiated the use of social media for inter-member communications. Lastly, Fulson led the group’s charitable giving effort. In 2012, the group raised and donated approximately $159,000 to various organizations such as local places of worship, NAACP, Big Brothers Big Sisters, 100 Black Men Inc, Habitat for Humanity, Alpha Phi Alpha, Omega Psi Phi and Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternities.

In addition to being a leader in a mentorship group, Fulson is passionate about eliminating barriers based on race, color, gender, national origin and religion in the Air Force, DOD, the United States and around the world. He mentored a new female officer and taught her about the Flight Test Engineer career field and the advanced education opportunities such as the Naval Flight Test short courses and the one year Air Force Test Pilot School. He convinced his senior staff to select her for one of two Flight Test Engineer positions in a squadron of 15 handpicked talented officers. His mentorship and support encouraged the female officer to apply to the Air Force Test Pilot School. Fulson’s advocacy has given the squadron its first female flight test engineer in four years, doubled the number of female flight test engineers in the unit and fostered an organizational culture that removes barriers and gives equal opportunities for all sexes and races.

Fulson’s dedication to promoting African Americans within the government has been widely recognized. This includes capturing Air Force Space Command’s nomination for the prestigious 2013 NAACP Roy Wilkins Renown Service award.

Army Civilian: Mr. Ricky Peer

Army Civilian: Mr. Ricky Peer

Ricky Peer has served as the Chief of the Ammo Depot Automation Project Management Office at the US Army Joint Munitions Command since Sep 2007. Mr. Peer supervises a unique and diverse team whose mission it is to facilitate and guide the collaborative integration of automation and enabling technologies into the ammunition logistics lifecycle business processes.

Peer began his career with the Federal Government as a Student Trainee in 1980. His previous assignments include Chief of the Accountability / Storage Division, Supervisory Industrial Base Manager, Environmental Scientist, Environmental Protection Specialist and Industrial Specialist. He graduated from the University of Arkansas – Pine Bluff with a Bachelor of Science degree in Industrial Technology in 1981. He is Level II certified in the acquisition field of Production, Quality, and Manufacturing, is Level I certified in Program Management, and is a member of the Army Acquisition Corps.

Peer earned a Lean Six Sigma Green Belt and has completed numerous logistics, leadership and executive courses of study, most notably the Senior Executive Service Candidate Development Training in Aug 02. He is a two-time recipient of the Commander’s Award for Civilian Service (Feb 04 and Jun 04) having been recognized for developing the Command's first Student Career Experience program with Historically Black Colleges/Universities and Hispanic Serving Institutions, and for his outstanding contributions to the Equal Employment Opportunity and Minority College Relations Programs. Peer was recognized as AMC’s 2009 National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) Roy Wilkins Renown Award nominee. He also received two Special Act Awards in July 2010 and September 2011.

Air Force Civilian: Jacqueline Toussaint

Air Force Civilian: Jacqueline Toussaint

Jacqueline A. Toussaint distinguished herself as Chief, Commander’s Action Group, Director of Staff Directorate, Air Force Research Laboratory, Air Force Materiel Command, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, from 1 June 2012 to 30 May 2013.

Toussaint is recognized for her leadership of highly successful workforce solutions for the recruitment and retention of women and minorities in science and engineering. She continues to support the Diversity in Research Initiative, which she founded several years ago. This program encompasses research with universities and creates strategic partnerships. As the program manager for the widely acclaimed Minority Leaders Program, she continues to introduce Historically Black Colleges/Minority Institutions to Air Force research opportunities. Toussaint continued to facilitate the summer internship program, and significantly increased the number of women and minorities throughout the organization. Through her leadership, the Laboratory participated in numerous national and regional technology-recruiting events. At Air Force Week 2012 in New York City, she led a 25 member team to provide technology demonstrations to thousands of visitors. The distinctive accomplishments of Toussaint reflect credit upon herself and the United States Air Force.