The amphibious assault ship USS Makin Island (LHD 8) held an African American/Black History Month observance on the ship’s mess decks Feb. 21.
This year’s theme highlighted civil rights in America and how it has shaped the country. The program recognized how the Civil Rights Act helped to strengthen the Navy.
The master of ceremonies, Chief Aviation Boatswain’s Mate (AW/SW) Chaka Porter, gave the opening remarks.
“Black history is all of our history and it plays a role in all of our lives,” said Porter. “It has been 164 years since the end of slavery and 50 years since the signing of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.”
The Civil Rights Act of 1964 was signed by President Lyndon Johnson and it prohibited discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.
“I’m proud to say that this nation has changed, and continues to evolve,” said Porter. “The progress and history that has been made can be seen not only on the surface, but deep within the veins of this nation.”
At the conclusion of Porters remarks the keynote speaker, Commanding Officer Capt. Alvin Holsey, addressed the crew.
“The civil rights movement was a time of great change in our country and our Navy,” said Holsey. “During this movement, the struggles for equality open doors of opportunity all across our nation and our military.”
Holsey, a naval aviator, started by reciting the poem “I wasn’t there”, in honor of the famed Tuskegee Airmen.
“Goals, strength, and determination,” said Holsey. “I think it’s safe to say, they all played roles in driving that movement which changed the course of America forever.”
During the civil rights movement, thousands of Americans participated in protests, sit-ins, and many other efforts which helped reshape the nation.
“There were several key moments throughout the civil rights movement that made a difference,” said Holsey. “I think the most crucial moment was when both blacks and whites, stood together in the face of adversity and said, ‘No More’.”
“Today we all have the right to achieve, the right to dream, the right to do whatever we desire as long as we are willing to work hard and execute,” stated Holsey.
Commissioned in 2009, Makin Island is the Navy’s newest Wasp-class amphibious assault ship capable of utilizing surface and air assets to move Marine forces ashore. The ship is named in honor of the daring World War II raid carried out by Marine Raider Companies A and B, Second Raider Battalion, on Japanese held Makin Island Aug. 17-18, 1942. LHD 8 is the second ship to bear the name “USS Makin Island.”