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Cresent Moon portrait

Black History Month

Pictured above is a watercolor portrait of Winston, NASA Astronaut and U.S. Navy Veteran, as featured in, We The People: Portraits of Veterans in America.

During Black History Month, we are sharing the experiences, challenges and triumphs of Black American Veterans by telling their stories. Check back each week during February for a new video as well as a series of virtual events and online programming listed below. African American Veterans fought our country’s wars even when they had to battle for the right to do so. This month, and every month, we honor these Veterans for their courage, sacrifice and perseverance with thanks for our freedoms.

Week 1: Introduction to Black History Month

Since the birth of our country and the fight for independence, African American men and women have played significant roles in the wars and conflicts throughout American history. During Black History Month, we honor their service, sacrifice and achievements. Our Public Programs Manager, Stacey Queen, shares a special message in our blog: Honoring Black History Month.

Week 2: Civil War Veterans

“In 1862, President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation opened the door for African Americans to join the war effort. By the end of the Civil War, approximately 180,000 African American soldiers had joined the fight.” – The Library of Congress

In honor of Black History Month, Museum Educator Taylor Shaw shares the story of U.S. Navy Veteran Siah Hulett Carter who served on the USS Monitor during the Civil War. You can also learn more in our latest blog post: Siah Hulett Carter: USS Monitor Sailor.

Week 3: World War I and World War II Veterans

During World War I, thousands of African Americans joined the fight to defend their country. These heroes risked their lives for a country that refused to admit that they deserved the same equal opportunities and rights as their fellow white soldiers.

Museum Educator Samantha Brooks shares Corporal Freddie Stowers’ inspiring story in our video as well as our latest blog, World War I Medal of Honor Recipient: Corporal Freddie Stowers.

Week 4: Modern War Veterans

As February comes to a close, we continue to celebrate the service, sacrifice and contributions African Americans have made to our United States Armed Forces. We began the month with historical Black American Veteran stories and with this final week, we share a 2021 story of history in the making.

Gen. Lloyd James Austin III, U.S. Army (Retired), last month was confirmed as our country’s first Black Secretary of Defense. Our Public Programs Manager, Stacey Queen, shares his story in our latest blog: Saluting General Lloyd Austin III, U.S. Army (Retired)

Educational Resources

Bring the National Veterans Memorial and Museum to your classroom at home.

Popular Past Blog Posts

Colonel Charles Young: African American Military Pioneer

Buffalo Soldiers Day: July 28

VEC 001 Black History Month Presentations

Revolutionary War

War of 1812

Civil War

World War I

World War II

Modern Wars

African American Inventors and the Military

Virtual Events

For our next installment of Veterans Voices, we welcome Gen. Colin L. Powell, U.S. Army (Retired) to share his insights on the 30th anniversary of the U.S. and Coalition victory in Operation Desert Storm. The “Powell Doctrine,” formed during the Vietnam War, guided U.S. military intervention through Operation Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom in Afghanistan and Iraq respectively. Powell served 35 years in the Army, rising to the rank of four-star general. During his last assignment, from October 1989 to September 1993, as the 12th Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the highest military position in the Department of Defense, Gen. Powell oversaw the invasion of Panama in 1989 and Operation Desert Storm in the Persian Gulf War against Iraq in 1990–1991.
We welcomed Col. Harold Brown (Retired), one of the famed Tuskegee Airmen, for our February Virtual Rally Point. Now in his 90s, Brown told his mother when he was in the sixth grade during segregation that he would become a military fighter pilot. In 1944 at age 19 he completed flight training at the Tuskegee Institute and graduated with his wings and a commission as a 2nd Lieutenant. Col. Brown will share his experience as a member of the Red Tailed Angels escorting bombers over Europe as well as being shot down and held as a POW in Germany. He and 25,000 other prisoners were rescued by forces led by Gen. George S. Patton on April 29, 1945.