Students, staff and community members gathered at Central Texas College on Tuesday night to celebrate Black History Month.

The event, now in its sixth year at the college, featured food, music and dance performances from local groups as well as guest speakers. The event was coordinated by the college’s guidance and counseling Black History Month committee and CTC’s multicultural activities committee.

This year the event focused on the achievements of African Americans in the military with the theme “Service and Sacrifice: A Salute to our African-American Military Heroes.”

“It’s inspired by our soldiers, and the heroes who risk their lives to protect us,” said Elaine Riley, a CTC employee and one of the event’s co-chairs.

The event’s keynote speaker, Chief Warrant Officer-3 Christopher Royal, reflected that theme. Royal, a survivor of the Fort Hood shooting on Nov. 5, 2009, and founder of the nonprofit 32 Still Standing Foundation.

The foundation helps provide financial support for survivors of the shooting and their families, and Royal hopes to extend it to help others suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.

In his speech, Royal highlighted the achievements of African-Americans in the military throughout history.

“There has not been a war fought by or in the United States that African-Americans have not fought in,” Royal said. “They served, and (they) served with honor.”

While Royal highlighted several prominent African-American members of the military from the Revolutionary War through the country’s most current conflicts, he also said there is still work to be done.

“No race is over until the last man crosses the finish line,” he said. “Go out and create your own history.”

Royal said he hoped the legacy of African-Americans in the military would inspire people from all walks of life to achieve their goals.

“The sky is the limit,” Royal said. “There is still a lot of history to be made.”

Contact Chris McGuinness at or (254) 501-7568. Follow him on Twitter at ChrismKDH.

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