Opening remarks delivered by Navy Captain and Commander at Naval Surface Warfare Center, Port Hueneme Division. This is one of nearly 200 speeches I've written for senior-level military and civilian personnel.


Black History Month Celebration



Welcome and thank you for being here. This year’s recognition of Black History Month is particularly symbolic. We celebrate an immensely proud moment in not only black history, but in our nation’s history – the election of our new president, Barack Obama. 


Over the years, men and women of every race and class have made contributions that have helped to shape and strengthen this country. African-Americans have had a significant impact on our development, and now President Obama has an opportunity to impact our country like no other before him.


Diversity of perspectives and thoughts contributes to the viability of our nation, as well as to the mission readiness of the Navy. Everyone has their own unique skills that enhance our capabilities and make us more operationally proficient, effective, and flexible. Diversity is key to the Navy’s success. It enables us to come up with innovative solutions to today’s and tomorrow’s toughest problems. 


A strong Navy objective is to employ the best and the brightest by continually removing barriers and offering equal opportunity to everyone in achieving their personal and professional goals. I’m proud to work for an organization that values the contributions and diverse perspectives of everyone. Unfortunately, it wasn’t always this way.


Today, we are honored to be visited by a unique group of pioneers in the fight for equality – the Tuskegee Airmen. The airmen served in World War II and were the first African-American military aviators in the United States Armed Forces. The Tuskegee Airmen were subjected to racial discrimination, both within and outside the army. They fought segregation and paved the way for full racial integration of the U.S. military. Please welcome them.


Just last month, we recognized another leader in the fight for civil rights – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. His birthday is recognized annually as the King Day of Service, but that spirit of service should last for longer than a day. If you haven’t done so already, I would encourage you to serve as mentors to the younger generations in your community. I challenge you to look to the future by inspiring others to achieve greatness – whether they decide to run for president themselves in thirty years or they simply opt to strive for their own personal best. 


Black History Month is a time to honor the many contributions that African-Americans have made to this country. As we recognize this month, we tend to think of notable African-Americans such as President Obama, the Tuskegee Airmen, Dr. King, and so on. By recognizing these accomplished individuals, we’re also recognizing the contributions of the African-American community as a whole. The hope is that future generations feel valued and visible as our nation continues to become more equitable for all of its citizens.


Thank you.