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Minnesota National Guard
Minnesota National Guard celebrates Black History Month

Minnesota National Guard ST PAUL, Minn- The Minnesota National Guard recognized and celebrated Black History Month, February 19, at Metro State University's St Paul campus Military members from the Minnesota National Guard hosted, participated and attended the event to show their support and emphasize the importance of diversity within the force The partnership of the Minnesota National Guard, Metro State University, the Council on Black Minnesotans, and the National Association of Black Military Women (NAB) generated an environment that not only acknowledged Black and African American contributions during the Civil Rights Era, but also fostered a sense of belonging and love in the community

"NAB has been around since 1953," said Staff Sgt Kimberly Dobler, a member of the NAB "But this chapter was actually started in April 2011, so it's fairly new in this state This is a great opportunity for us to work with the Council on Black Minnesotans because they are telling the story of the black caucus as a whole This offers a platform for us to ensure our message and history as veterans, and as black women in the military, is included"

The opening message by Chaplain Ray Rangle called for an open heart, patience and tolerance In her opening remarks, Lt. Col. Angela Steward-Randall, a key leader in organizing the event, said, "Diversity is not a new concept to citizens," but collaboration can enhance capabilities and add value to our communities She also noted that, "Today Black Americans serve then they do now- proudly and with honor"

Minnesota Human Rights Commissioner Kevin Lindsey focused closely on the term "allophilia," which is having a positive attitude toward a group that is not one's own He described the difference between tolerance and allophilia as, "the way to get to the mountain top," with the step in-between being respect

"Veterans help move us as a country from tolerance, to respect, to allophilia," Lindsey said "Black veterans came home from the battlefield and showed us what democracy could look like, often putting themselves back in harm's way on the homefront while defending civil rights Love has redemptive power, and when you seek love you prevent hate"

Lindsey recognized a local Civil Rights legend and WWII Veteran, Matthew Little, who recently passed away Lindsey speculated that a tradition long held among black veterans is a pride in not being satisfied for what is, but a longing for what could be

Purple Heart recipient, Reverend Richard Jenkins was drafted into the military in 1964 and was with the first Infantry Division to land in Vietnam In a tragic event and traumatic experience, he witnessed the death of 29 of his fellow soldiers In his search for meaning in his survival he underlined that "before you can love someone, you must love yourself" Jenkins also addressed the different types of love and encouraged Agape love, a love that gives without expecting anything in return Jenkins emphasized that, "Everybody has something to offer"

The underlining message was that Black History is strong in American History, that we rise or fall as one people, and the power of human unity must prevail Along with messages imparted on participants, food, camaraderie and an interpretive dance performance by New Bethel Baptist Church Praise Team was shared

"This was an opportunity to reach out into the community to meet local cultural leaders," said Master Sgt David Paynter, Recruiting and Retention Superintendent for the Minnesota Air National Guard "We have a goal in the National Guard; to make sure the members of the National Guard match the community We are not an exclusive club, and we want to make sure our Service members reflect that This is an opportunity to reach out to the community and celebrate Black History"

February 27, 2014
by Staff Sgt Jennifer Rechtfertig
Minnesota National Guard Public Affairs

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