SUFFOLK, Va. — Sailors and Department of the Navy civilians assigned to Naval Information Forces (NAVIFOR), Joint Staff–Hampton Roads (JS-HR), Joint Naval Network Warfare Command (NNWC), U.S. Fleet Cyber Command (FCC) South and Navy Cyber Defense Operations Command gathered to observe African American History Month during a ceremony held Feb. 5.
The observance of African American/Black History Month runs through the month of February and celebrates the contributions of African Americans to our nation. The theme for 2019 is “Black Migrations,” emphasizing the movement of people of African descent to new destinations and subsequently to new social realities.
Vice Adm. Brian B. Brown, commander, NAVIFOR, opened the observance with brief remarks to thank the symphonic orchestra from Colonel Fred Cherry Middle School for their performance, the guest speaker, Ms. Beth Austin, the multi-cultural committee and attendees for supporting the event.
“This year’s theme focuses especially on the 20th century through today, but our presentations include the African-American migration experience from the 15th century until today,” said Brown. “Today, every part of our service is integrated, and every rating and every rank, all the way to four star, has had African-American members. Our nation and our Navy have been the beneficiaries of that social migration.”
Brown introduced Austin, a registrar and historian for the Hampton History Museum.
Austin’s areas of research include colonial Virginia, the early Atlantic World, religion in early America, and the history of slavery. Most recently, she curated the major exhibition, Give Me Liberty: Fugitive Slaves and the Long Revolution Against Slavery, and produced the comprehensive research report, 1619: Virginia's First Africans, for the Hampton History Museum. She has also taught early American history as adjunct instructor for Christopher Newport University and provided museum collections management consultation services for the York County Historical Museum and Gloucester Museum of History. Austin received a Bachelor of Arts in history and Bachelor of Music in history magna cum laude from Christopher Newport University, Master of Arts in history summa cum laude from Old Dominion University, and a Graduate Certificate in Museum Collections Management and Care summa cum laude from George Washington University.
“About 60 people from Central West Africa migrated to Virginia with stops in the Caribbean and Bermuda,” said Austin. “The enslaved population of African Americans in the colony of Virginia stemmed from this arrival in 1619.”
The event concluded with a potluck spread organized by the multi-cultural committee and an opportunity for attendees to tour the historical displays set up throughout the Hall of Heroes.
NAVIFOR’s mission is to provide combat-ready Information Warfare forces to operational commanders, ashore and afloat, that are forward deployable, fully trained, properly manned, capably equipped, always ready, well-maintained and combat sustainable.
For more information about NAVIFOR, visit the command's website at http://www.public.navy.mil/fltfor/navifor/Pages/Default2.aspx, our Navy News Web page at http://www.navy.mil/local/navifor or Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/USNavyInformationDominanceForces.