Black Experience

Black Veterans Receive Well-Earned Salutes for Service

The Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, Inc. (CBCF) recently honored nine Black veterans during its ninth annual Avoice Heritage Celebration in northwest D.C.: Gen. Colin L. Powell, USA (Retired); a 100-year-old woman veteran who served in World War II; current Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) veterans; and a former homeless veteran who champions rights for female veterans will receive awards during a reception and program at the Naval Heritage Center.

The Avoice Heritage Celebration showcases the CBCF’s Avoice Virtual Library Project, an online repository that captures the legislative and political achievements of African Americans in Congress and provides an opportunity to recognize outstanding individuals and organizations who make humanitarian contributions to society.

This year’s theme, “Black Veterans on the Front Lines of History,” honored the unwavering patriotic resilience, commitment and sacrifices of African Americans to the values of freedom, democracy and justice from the battle eld to the halls of Congress. “From the heroic efforts of the Tuskegee Airman to the countless Black patriots that died protecting the uncertain promise of freedom, we owe a debt of gratitude,” said A. Shuanise Washington, president and CEO, CBCF. “The choice to serve our country in such a distinguished manner is to be revered and commemorated. It is an honor to pay respect to the black veterans that have often been overlooked due to the color of their skin.”

Members of the CBC joined attendees to laud the 2018 honorees who have served in the military and have demonstrated their support and commitment to advancing the rights and bene ts of Black veterans. The evening consisted of a special “talkback” session with select honorees, including Gen. Powell.

“The respect for Black veterans has been embattled with racial tension and hostility since Reconstruction ended,” said Dr. Menna Demessie, CBCF’s vice president, Policy Analysis and Research. “The 2018 Avoice Heritage Celebration offiers a special occasion to honor the legacy of those in our community who have endured the tolls of war to protect our liberty. The CBCF will continue to uplift Black voices that have been historically left out of the American narrative.” The 2018 Avoice Heritage Celebration honorees included:

• Gen. Colin L. Powell, USA (Retired) — Distinguished Pioneer in the U.S. Military and National Security Award for his profile and accomplishments as a historic trailblazer for Black veterans. As the first African-American Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (1989-1993) and first African American to serve as Secretary of State (2001 to 2005), Gen. Powell’s demonstrated legacy over the course of his illustrious career in the military and foreign service drives a new generation of Americans to public service.

• Sgt. Millie Dunn Veasey (Retired) — Distinguished Veteran: Living Legend Award for serving as staff sergeant to the 6888th Central Postal Directory Battalion during World War II. Sgt. Veasey went on to become the first female president of the Wake County NAACP and in 1986 retired from her Alma Mater (St. Augustine’s College) as the director of career planning and placement cooperative education.

• Current CBC veterans — Distinguished Veteran Service and Champion Award in recognition of their military service and demonstrated commitment to minority veterans’ affairs. In addition to their time in the armed services, CBCF seeks to honor their demonstrated efforts, personally as well as through their legislative actions and congressional influence, to uplift and represent minority veterans.

• Rep. Sanford D. Bishop Jr. [U.S. Army]

• Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson [Nurse Veteran]

• Rep. Bobby L. Rush [U.S. Army]

• Rep. Robert C. “Bobby” Scott [Massachusetts National Guard and U.S. Army Reserve]

• Rep. G.K. Butterfield [U.S. Army]

• Rep. Anthony Brown [U.S. Army Reserve]

• Ginger Miller, Petty Third Class Distinguished Veterans’ Rights Activist Award for her tireless efforts to expose the public and advocate for veterans in need. Miller is military veteran and once homeless, who founded John 14:2, a nonprofit organization that has a core mission to assist military veterans and their families experiencing homelessness, substance abuse and mental illness.

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