February is Black History Month and VA is proud to join our country in celebrating the extraordinary legacy of Black Americans.

There are more than two million Black Veterans in the United States who have made incredible sacrifices for our country. One of them was Lawrence Brooks, who was the oldest known World War II Veteran. Brooks was drafted in 1940 and served in the Army’s 91st Engineer Battalion. On Jan. 5, 2022, Brooks passed away at 112.

Black History Month is celebrated each year in February to recognize the significant contributions that Black Americans have made in our nation’s history. It is a time to collectively celebrate racial pride, assess our nation’s commitment to the ideals of freedom, and reflect on and commemorate the struggle for freedom and equality.

National African American History Month had its origins in 1915 when historian and author Dr. Carter G. Woodson founded the Association for the Study of the Negro Life and History.  Through this organization, Dr. Woodson initiated the first Negro History Week in February 1926. Dr. Woodson selected the week in February that included the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass.

Jesse Brown

Jesse Brown was the first Black secretary of Veterans Affairs. Former Secretary Brown was a Marine Corps Veteran and a fierce trailblazer in developing medical, housing and employment programs for injured Veterans. In 2004, the VA Chicago Health Care System was renamed in honor of Former Secretary Brown.

Dr. Howard Kenney

Dr. Howard Kenney was the first Black director to integrate the VA hospital system with his position at the East Orange, New Jersey, VA facility. In 1969, he again made history by becoming the first Black American to be appointed as a VA Regional Medical Director. Dr. Kenney also worked as an associate deputy chief for policy, plans and operations at VA central headquarters before retiring in the 1970s.

Brandy Woods

Brandy Woods is a 2020 recipient of the Veterans Healing Veterans (VHV) Medical Access & Scholarship Program. Woods, an Army Veteran, attends Morehouse School of Medicine in Atlanta, Georgia. Morehouse is one of 107 Historically Black Colleges and Universities in the country and one of nine medical schools participating in VHV.

Dr. Ludwig Gross, a longtime VA scientist, discovered the first two mammalian cancer viruses and was the first scientist to demonstrate that leukemia in mammals was transmitted by a virus.VA scientist first to show viruses can cause cancer
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34 Comments

  1. shane larson March 1, 2022 at 2:40 pm

    I care about how Soldiers comport themselves I do not care about how much melanin they have in their skin or for that matter what sex they are. How about you worry more about VA hospital staffing and less about some PC stories. Thanks! PS Dion no one owes anyone here in America anything based on Race. What is a disgrace is that you think that based on your skin tone that we need a history month to venerate it rather than the achievements as a whole or individual. Makes me wonder if your service was predicated by racist PC BS!

  2. Leo Cody February 28, 2022 at 5:34 pm

    Why aren’t we celebrating our CREATOR first and thanking Him for all of our lives.

  3. MarvWil February 28, 2022 at 3:34 pm

    white history month is every month. Black history month is one month. Go back to your history
    classes in school. What was discussed?

  4. Steve (Preacher) Paramore February 27, 2022 at 4:31 pm

    When is White History Month ?

    • James H Hill, Jr. February 28, 2022 at 8:32 am

      Every month is White History month…………

  5. Ellis Manns Jr February 27, 2022 at 3:54 pm

    Thank you

  6. Ellis Manns Jr February 27, 2022 at 3:52 pm

    I am proud of the VA’s celebrating the extraordinary legacy of Black Americans.
    I am proud of the support VA has been in my life.

  7. Martin Williams February 27, 2022 at 2:16 pm

    My father was a mechanic for the Tuskegee Airmen

  8. Bob February 27, 2022 at 12:19 pm

    There should be NO black history month anymore than a white, yellow or red one. I believe this is racist.

  9. Jackie McAlpine February 27, 2022 at 11:37 am

    Four star General Colin Luther Powell was an American politician, statesman, diplomat, and United States Army Officer who served as the 65th United States Secretary of State from 2001 to 2005. He was the first African-American Secretary of State. General Powell is a true hero-he was wounded in Vietnam and also was decorated for bravery on another assignment when the helicopter he was in with other military crashed and he rescued 3 others from the burning wreckage. He genuinely cared about others and displayed this in his service. would like to set up a walk to honor this great American!

    • Kyle Fortson February 28, 2022 at 10:41 pm

      I agree,

  10. Dion February 26, 2022 at 9:05 pm

    February 18th, 2022, 358 words, 1.3 min read!

    Is the VA really honoring black history month with this short read? I just received this email on February 26, 2022, TWO days before February ends! If the VA really wants to Honor Black History during the Month of February, they should send out an email at the beginning of February, instead of TWO days before the end of February, and then weekly during the Month of February and list more than only THREE of the TWO MILLION Black Americans who served and sacrificed for America! This is unacceptable and a disgrace for the Veterans Administration!

    [Editor: Please scroll through the archives in February. This specific blog post is hardly the first or last piece on BHM in the month: https://blogs.va.gov/VAntage/date/2022/02/ ]

  11. AlvinG February 26, 2022 at 8:15 pm

    IMO Black history month is a slap in the face to narrow it down to one month. Black folks have been in the US as long as anyone else. Also, I’d like to see German/American contributions to society along with any other ethnicity. When we view one another as fellow Americans we’ll just begin to honor all of God’s creation. Mankind created race through culture, but God created the human race because we’re all in it.

    • HG February 28, 2022 at 9:12 am

      I am so sorry that you have taken this stance.
      It appears that you do not know the realities of American history.
      I say so because I want to believe that you are a rational and reasonable person who can understand the ‘imbalance ‘ of accepting certain racial and cultural groups in the USA.
      If US presidents did what MLK did during his lifetime and were assassinated for a good work, then perhaps they might be given a day!
      George Washingon and Abraham Lincoln are presidents who have been honored for great deeds!

  12. PJ February 26, 2022 at 6:50 pm

    Why dont you worry about a White history month when so many others want to erase our history. The VA needs to stay the hell out of this politically correct bull. Everywhere statues of famous white heroes have been destroyed or vandalized. Start fighting to protect our founders and those of us that are continued to be called racist because of our race and heritage. Stand for us and quit being part of the problem. MLK has a day to himself but our Presidents do not. Stop being part of the problem as are so many other government entities

  13. Jacob Lozada February 26, 2022 at 6:34 pm

    In my opinion, your article did a disservice to one of the most distinguished and accomplished African American ever to serve at VA…Dr Leo MacKay, He was a Naval Academy Graduate, TopGun pilot and Harvard MBA and PhD in Economics. He served during the period of 2000 to 2002 as Deputy Secretary. Dr MacKay is now a Senior VP at Lockheed Martin.

  14. Ernest J Allen February 26, 2022 at 5:01 pm

    Thank you for the information.

  15. John-William February 26, 2022 at 4:48 pm

    I think “Black History Month” is pure racist. There is NOT supposed to be “racism” in the military, yet that is what you have done, sorted out a particular race, when there is NO race in the military. In the military we are all AMERICANS. Shame Shame on you! How about “White history month?” or brown History month? Gay history month? etc. etc. Get the picture??

  16. William (Bill) C. McElroy February 26, 2022 at 4:34 pm

    Please see my three Amazon.com books .. “Black Heroes, Inventors, and Artists: The Hidden Americans you may never have known existed” & “A List of African American Museums : Discover the Hidden America you may never have known was there” & “American Racism Dominates Our History” by William McElroy

  17. Jay m newberger February 26, 2022 at 4:04 pm

    Thanks much

  18. Billy Williams February 26, 2022 at 2:27 pm

    Why was the Korean conflict not called a war ?

  19. Richard Turner February 26, 2022 at 1:52 pm

    In an interview on 60 Minutes in 2005 – posted online in 2009 – Morgan Freeman outlines his opinions on Black History Month.

    Here, the actor makes an argument for not supporting the month-long celebration. He said: “You’re going to relegate my history to a month?”

    Morgan Freeman continued: “I don’t want a black history month. Black history is American history.”

    Morgan Freeman’s opinion matches up to that of Carter G. Woodson, the father of Black History Month.

    Originally explaining the importance of Black History Month, Woodson said: “If a race has no history, it has no worthwhile tradition, it becomes a negligible factor in the thought of the world, and it stands in danger of being exterminated.”

    However, Woodson hoped – just as Morgan Freeman believes – that Black history and American history would one day become one, meaning Black History Month would end.

    How about a White History Month for the 400,000 white Union soldiers who were left dead on the battlefields of the Civil War. They were fighting to end slavery.

  20. Neal February 26, 2022 at 1:48 pm

    When are you going to celebrate Jewish History Month? With only approximately 7.5 million Jews in the country (just 1.5 million more than were exterminated in the Holocaust, we are a much smaller minority than the 50 million Blacks. What’s your problem over there? Anti-Semitic?

  21. Robert Olson February 26, 2022 at 1:22 pm

    When is white history month?

  22. Jonathon Benjamin February 26, 2022 at 12:27 pm

    Hello,

    My name is Jonathon Benjamin and I am a Black, LGBT, disabled veteran of the US Air Force. I am also a current student at Montgomery College, studying ASL. According to recent statistics, only less than 6% of published authors are African American, less than 50% are men and under 20% identify as LGBT.

    At 31 years old, I am now a published author of my debut memoir, American Airman, a memoir of a wounded veteran. I am now in the proof copy process of my book being produced and would like to explore opportunities to hold book talks and public, community engagement seminars about my book and it’s themes.
     
    Since Sept. 11, 2001, just over 30,000 veterans have died by suicide — four times more than the number of U.S. military personnel who have died in combat in both Iraq and Afghanistan. My 83,000-word debut memoir, The Saga of an American Airman, is an unflinching look at one veteran’s life. Like Jake Wood’s Once a Warrior, The Saga of an American Airman is about a transitioning veteran channeling his pain into a new life purpose. Unlike Once a Warrior, though, it tells a more complete life story, from a veteran’s adolescence and enlistment in the Air Force, to a near fatal injury while serving on active-duty, and then through his difficult transition back into civilian life.
    Meet Ryan Cureton, a young African American man at the cusp of adulthood. His childhood was a tumultuous fight to stay afloat in a toxic home. When his academic scholarship to college runs out, he must choose: will he stay under the reigns of abusive parents, or strike out and forge a new path for himself in the military? Ryan ultimately joins the Air Force, where he serves with distinction, until he is seriously injured overseas. Now medically retired from service and dealing with the lingering effects of a severe traumatic brain injury, Ryan finds his unlikely healing in the world of theatre, first as an usher, and later, as an award-winning playwright.
    The Saga of an American Airman is a story of vulnerability, resiliency, and hope that will particularly appeal to America’s 2.9 million Wounded Warriors. No veteran returns the same as when they first enlisted. More often than not, the scars and wounds go unseen and the battle doesn’t end at discharge: according to VA statistics, every day, 23 veterans take their own lives. Ryan’s story bears witness to the men and women who, in fighting for our rights and freedoms, make unimaginable sacrifices and, then, must search for that elusive “new “normal” after sacrifice becomes reality. It grapples with several issues that are regularly covered by the media, including mental health, veteran health care, and the impact of a recovering veteran on their family.
    My name is Jonathon “Jack-Jack” Benjamin and I am a proud veteran of the US Air Force. I earned a B.A. in Theatre with a minor in Creative Writing from George Washington University. I also have received honors as a playwright from the John F Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and the Dramatist Guild of America. The Saga of an American Airman is based on my life and true events; I was indeed injured overseas while on active duty and spent 3 years in hospital care before being medically retired from the Air Force in 2015. In forging a new life for myself, I decided, among many other things, to change my name to Jonathon Benjamin in 2017.

    The book is being published by Dorrance Publishing company in Pittsburgh, PA and Politics & Prose here in Washington, DC. As soon as the book is on sale I can let you know.

    Very Respectfully,
    Jonathon Benjamin

  23. James Bailey February 26, 2022 at 11:53 am

    As a veteran that is black, thanks for honoring these veterans and so many more.

  24. Roger Moen February 26, 2022 at 11:25 am

    Black history month. Isn’t that discrimination. If we had a white history month would we have to celebrate segragation and the civil war.

  25. Michael Stitt February 26, 2022 at 11:24 am

    Are blacks more likely to have their VA claims denied or required to provide more proof for their claims????

  26. Robert Seybold February 26, 2022 at 10:52 am

    After 35 years of Federal service, and now retired, I always wondered about “Black History Month”. We were always given time off work to attend a mandatory lecture on Black history. But why does this lesson have to always be given by a black persons? Isn’t there someone that isn’t black capable of delivering this instruction? After all, are not facts still facts?

  27. Dan February 26, 2022 at 10:30 am

    Is the VA going to jump on the bandwagon of contributing to the racial tension by advertising the support of Black History Month? This needs to be quelled. Are we going to have a White History month. A Hispanic History month, a Japanese History month, how about Eastern Indian month, or American Indigenous History month? Where does it end if you start something?

  28. Bacon Overlord February 26, 2022 at 9:50 am

    Do you guys have any idea how racist and racially discriminating “black history month” is and how racist this website is when you specifically pick people to “celebrate” based on their race?

    I expected better from the VA.

  29. Raymond Motley February 26, 2022 at 9:37 am

    Veterans striving towards being the best motivation the country can be I’m a 24yr veteran working towards that accomplishment in. in black hisory .

  30. William Harless February 26, 2022 at 9:33 am

    When is white history month?

  31. Wayland Burton February 26, 2022 at 8:32 am

    It was short. It appeared in my email on 26 Feb two days prior to the end of Black History month. So I guess celebrating for two days is better than no days at all.

    [Editor: It was not the first or the last story on BHM. We’ve been posting BHM stories since 2/1. Please scroll through the month’s archive: https://blogs.va.gov/VAntage/date/2022/02/ ]

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