Black History Month Celebrates with "African Americans and the Vote"
Vol.6 Issue 2
Master of Ceremonies, George Davis, Manager, Instrument Flight Procedures Group (AJV-A450)

The Aeronautical Center’s National Black Coalition of Federal Aviation Employees (NBCFAE) kicked off Black History Month on February 11th with a special presentation in the headquarters auditorium for all employees. George Davis (AJV-A450) served as the Master of Ceremonies, as the Mike Monroney Aeronautical Center (MMAC) Choir opened the event with singing the "Negro National Anthem" while Joseph Smith (AFB-140) played the piano. Kim Sheppard, Chief of Staff to the Aeronautical Center Director (AMC-3) provided welcoming remarks, noting that this year marks the Centennial of the 19th Amendment (giving women the right to vote.) Twenty-twenty is also the 150th anniversary of the 15th Amendment (making it illegal for federal or state governments to deny any U.S. Citizen the right to vote), but for whatever reason this did not apply to women. It did supposedly allow the right for black men to go to the ballot after the Civil War. But as history has shown, various discrimatory practices were used to prevent African Americans (especially those from the South) to exercise their right to vote.

A special historical note, our own Senator Mike Monroney supported the Civil Rights Act of 1957, 1960 and 1964. The right to jobs and the right to vote served as the threshold of civil rights for Mr. Monroney. He also pressed for the employment of the first African American in the Oklahoma City post office and was one of the first members of Congress from the south and other states to employ African Americans on his staff. Monroney supported major civil rights legislations throughout the 1950’s and 1960’s.

Oklahoma Councilwoman Nikki Nice from Ward 7 was the distinguished keynote speaker. Ms. Nice is the 10th woman, and the second woman of color, to serve on the Council since Oklahoma City's incorporation in 1890. She provided additional historical context about African Americans and the right to vote, placing it in both and national and state-wide context. Ms. Nice provided examples of some of the unreasonable ’literacy tests’ that were issued, and talked about poll taxes and other discrimatory practices that were used to disenfranchise a majority of black voters in the decades following Reconstruction. Ms. Nice spoke about the 50 small black towns in Oklahoma that flourished from the 1890’s until the 1930’s in Oklahoma, noting that only 13 of those towns remain, and their rich history is cherished to this day.

To further demonstrate the black disenfranchisement, in 1965 during the time of the Voting Rights Act, there were 6 African American members of the U.S. House of Representatives and 0 Blacks in the U.S. Senate. By 1971, there were 13 members of the House and 1 Black member in the Senate. Today, there are 52 African-American members in the House of Representatives and 2 in the Senate.

Keynote speaker: Oklahoma Councilwoman Nikki Nice from Ward 7
The MMAC Choir provided a heart-warming performance to close out the Black History Month celebration.

The program concluded with a touching rendition of "Total Praise" by the MMAC Choir. The NBCFAE also plans to host a Soul Food Luncheon and Bazaar on February 26th in cooperation with Blue Sky Café. As we take time to reflect on the activities during Black History Month, and the accomplishment of many noble African Americans, let us not forget those who fought and died for our right to vote.

Special thanks to the MMAC Choir Members:
Sherri Anderson-Beasley, EEO Specialist, AMC-009
Betty Bledsoe, Management and Program Analyst, AMA-020
Vicki Craig, Management and Program Assistant, AMA-020
Gloria J. Hall, Management and Program Analyst, AJV-A340
Fatina Hogan, Financial Specialist, AMK-317
Cybele Hsu, Multimedia Developer, AMA-500
Karen Hunter, Human Resources Specialist, AHF-W300
Terry A. James, Distance Learning Support Specialist, AMA-260
Shurone Richmond, Financial Specialist, AMK-312
Renae Simpson, Media Services Specialist, AMK-223C
Joseph Smith, Program Manager, AFB-140, Director/Pianist
Cammie Sneed, Financial Specialist, AMK-314
Mary A. Tsien, Architect, AMP-400
I’Leta Young, Electronics Technician Instructor, AMA-411, Director

Aeronautical Center / Oklahoma Chapter NBCFAE Officers
Cynthia Work, President - AJI-2410
Gloria Hall, Vice President, AJV-A 340
Shawn Oglesby, Treasurer, AML-7070
Lynn Crayton, Secretary, AMA-020
George E. Davis, Community Liaison, AJV-A 45

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