Black migration was the theme of a Black History Month commemoration held Saturday at VFW Post 9191 in Killeen.
Master of ceremonies and program organizer Anthony Eckwood said before the event that the program would break down into four basic parts covering the history of black migration from the South into other parts of the United States.
Brandy Harrell covered the topic of segregation in the United States, noting that Congress had passed a civil rights law in 1875, only to have it ignored and finally overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court just a few years later.
Harrell said there’s been progress on the issue of segregation but it still lingers to this day.
Eddie West Jr. handled the topic of black leaders during Reconstruction. He noted several black politicians served in Congress after the Civil War, though the number elected was never representative of the actual number of African Americans living in the South in the late 19th century.
The president of the Buffalo Soldiers Motorcycle Club energized the audience by talking about how the United States segregated blacks in the military, yet counted on them to handle tough jobs. Bruce Whiteside touched on the Buffalo Soldiers’ role in helping enforce the 13th and 14th Amendments to the Constitution in Texas when leaders in the state balked.
He also reminded the crowd of more than 80 people that the Tuskegee Airmen were forbidden from flying with white pilots during World War II, but their success in the air led to a quick end to that type of segregation.
Finally, Josephine Worthington talked about the renaissance of Harlem during the early 1900s when thousands of African Americans migrated north, creating a cultural touchstone that included entertainers like Josephine Baker, Billie Holliday, and Langston Hughes.
Post Commander Carlo S. Davis brought the message of the program home in his closing remarks.
Davis reminded the crowd of the proud history of Post 9191 as the first VFW post in the United States to admit African Americans.
“Black History is American history,” Davis said, thanking all the organizers and presenters for their hard work in putting together the event.