Post Written by LTJG Virginia Hudgins, Coast Guard Diversity Workforce Staff
Throughout the month of February, the Coast Guard will be celebrating Black History Month (BHM) with a special emphasis on the theme, “The History of Black Economic Empowerment”. This theme outlines the struggle of African Americans to overcome socioeconomic and racial barriers to achieve education, professional employment, and economic empowerment. African Americans have played a vital role in Coast Guard history, and continue to contribute their lives and talents to the accomplishment of CG missions.
February is not only a time to celebrate the great historical contributions of our African American shipmates, but it is also the time to look for ways that the Coast Guard can continue to give back to the African American community today and in the future.
During BHM, there will be numerous opportunities for service members and families to honor the history of African American involvement in the CG. Perhaps most exciting of all is the release of the new Coast Guard-supported film documenting the story of the Pea Island Lifesaving Station surfmen, “RESCUE MEN: The Story of the Pea Island Life Savers”. Screenings will be held at CG bases throughout the nation, including training centers and areas in which large concentrations of Guardians are stationed. Check back here on the Compass Feb. 15 for more on this documentary including a trailer and some behind-the-scenes photos.
Other BHM events focus on the contributions of Captain Mike Healy, including presentations at the US Navy Memorial in Washington, D.C. and a production at Headquarters featuring Dr. Dennis Noble, co-author of the book Captain “Hell Roaring” Mike Healy: From American Slave to Arctic Hero. For more details on these and other BHM events, please see the Office of Diversity Observances webpage.
In our observance of BHM, we must also look toward the future of the Coast Guard and how we can encourage the success and growth of our African American community. In September 2009, the Commandant signed the new Coast Guard Diversity Strategic Plan, which aims to propel the Coast Guard toward becoming “the ‘Employer of Choice’ in the federal government for recruiting, retaining and sustaining a ready, diverse and highly-skilled Total Workforce.” In doing so, “We will foster an environment in which every individual has the opportunity to prosper and contribute to Coast Guard missions.”
In our efforts to attain this vision, we are working to expand outreach activities within the African American community, enhance our partnerships with Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU), ensure equitable hiring and career opportunities for all employees, and optimize training and education to underscore the value of workforce diversity.
If you would like to be involved with outreach, HBCU partnership, or other diversity initiatives, contact LTJG Virginia Hudgins at Virginia.D.Hudgins@uscg.mil.
Stay tuned here on the Compass every Monday in February as we feature the celebration of African Americans in the history of the Coast Guard.