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IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Release No: 116-04
February 18, 2004

DoD Hosts 2004 African American History Month Activities

Principal Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness Charles S. Abell is hosting a two-day student exposition, symposium and luncheon in observance of African American History Month in Tallahassee, Fla., beginning today and concluding Thursday, Feb. 19, 2004. The activities will be held on the campus of Florida A&M, one of our nation's largest Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU).

This outreach program is one of the continuing initiatives within the Defense Department to increase the representation of African Americans in senior military and civilian grades, and to improve access by HBCUs to information and opportunities within the DoD to middle, high school and college students; college administrators; and business, community and government organizations.

Currently, more than 275, 000 African Americans serve on active duty, comprising 19.9 percent of the military force. More than 90,000 African Americans represent 14 percent of the DoD civilian workforce.

Florida A&M was chosen as the location for the Defense Department's observance as it is one of 118 historically black colleges and universities across this nation that symbolizes excellence in education. Presidential executive orders call for federal government participation in support of strengthening and maintaining the infrastructure of these educational institutions by providing and increasing business opportunities and access to federal information.

African American History Month is celebrated each year by presidential proclamation. In addition to the FAMU activities, the Department of Defense will mark the event with observances at military installations and ships at sea worldwide.