Black History Month shapes lives

Senior Airman Simone King, 341st Security Forces Support Squadron commander support staff, poses in her office Feb. 21, 2018, at Malmstrom Air Force Base, Mont. King brings her voice and perspective to the Malmstrom community discussing Black History Month. (U.S. Air Force photo by Kiersten McCutchan)

Senior Airman Simone King, 341st Security Forces Support Squadron commander support staff, poses in her office Feb. 21, 2018, at Malmstrom Air Force Base, Mont. King brings her voice and perspective to the Malmstrom community discussing Black History Month. (U.S. Air Force photo by Kiersten McCutchan)


Black History Month, also known as National African American History Month, is an annual celebration of achievements by African Americans and a time to recognize the immeasurable impact they have had on the history of the United States.


The Department of Defense celebrates special annual observances, and has named the 2018 theme as African Americans in Times of War.


According to the Defense Equal Opportunity Management Institute, the annual celebration of achievements by black Americans is associated with Dr. Carter G. Woodson. In 1915, Dr. Woodson founded the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History, now called the Association for the Study of African American Life and History.


In 1926, Dr. Woodson initiated the celebration of Negro History Week, which encompassed the birthdays of Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln. The celebration was expanded to a month in 1976.


Throughout America's history, black service members have honorably answered the call of duty. From the Battle of Lexington to the Battle of Fallujah to present-day, black service members have maintained this rich tradition and continue to serve in the United States Armed Forces with great valor and distinction.


Senior Airman Simone King, 341st Security Forces Support Squadron commander support staff, is assigned to Malmstrom Air Force Base, Montana. She was born and raised in Staten Island, New York, and entered the Air Force after moving to Virginia to go to college. She was studying accounting.  


She said her major was interesting, but that she really wanted to be a special agent and work cases that involved child abuse and human trafficking so King joined the Air Force in January 2015 when she was 21 years old.


She joined to be security forces, and then wanted to eventually work for the Air Force Office of Special Investigations, she said.


King has since switched her major to investigative forensics, and will be earning her undergraduate degree soon. King said she feels her start with the Air Force in security forces will help her achieve her goals.


King is part of a defense force squadron at Malmstrom that provides more than 1,200 security forces personnel with training, equipment and support to foster the most advanced war-fighting and combat-ready force in Air Force Global Strike Command.


King said she sees her role in today’s military, and what she wants to do in the future, as part of the story – of the many stories – that contribute to Black History Month, and for King, the annual observance has helped her shape her career in the Air Force.


“Black History Month is important to me because it is a time to recognize people who are inspiring to myself and to the community,” she said. “Also because this is a time when we can pay attention to our nation’s history in black culture and everyone can see how far we’ve come.”


King talks about her mentors and people who inspire her in honor of Black History Month, and how she might encourage others, leading by example.


“Former President Barack Obama made an indelible and profound mark on me,” she said, “as he was our first elected African American president. In winning the presidential election, and serving his two terms in office, he became an inspiration I will hold onto forever.”


King said there are Air Force African American leaders at Malmstrom that she looks up to, including an Airman who King worked with that was her mentor, friend and colleague.


“I watched her day-to-day and learned to value her achievements as an Airman, mother and woman here at Malmstrom. She showed me that I can do it, too,” she said.


The past, present and future of individuals who contribute to Black History Month in the armed forces are a collective of many voices and achievements, including King’s own.


“One of my greatest joys in life is helping people,” she said. “I like to leave a place or person better than when I got there. Whether people, work or relationships, it’s important to me to leave my special touch on everything that I do – and to tell my story when I can.”
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