Mason Celebrates African American History


Story Number: NNS050211-04Release Date: 2/11/2005 1:15:00 PM
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By Journalist 3rd Class (SW) John Stevens, USS Harry S. Truman Public Affairs

USS MASON, At sea (NNS) -- USS Mason (DDG 87) highlighted the lives and achievements of notable African Americans Feb. 6, with static displays and a slide presentation created by its multicultural committee.

A ship with a rich cultural history, Mason reflected that precept with the groundbreaking celebration, welcoming shipmates and looking forward to more events in February and beyond.

"This was our very first event this cruise," said Sonar Technician 1st Class (SW/IUSS) George Davis, president of the multicultural committee. "We thought, 'What do we need to do to liven up the crew?'"

With goodies to sample while reading the rich histories of revolutionary Americans, such as inventor Benjamin Banneker, Congresswoman Barbara Jordan and astronaut Mae C. Jemison, the event broke the monotone of another day at sea.

"We're basically giving back to the crew," said Information Systems Technician 2nd Class (SW) Jesse Dorsey, a committee member who helped set up the event.
Davis said the committee hopes to see more in the next two weeks.

"We're still in the planning stages," he said. "We hope to have an open mic for poetry, and we have a skit planned for the last Sunday of the month, as well as a church service in honor of black history."

Davis said the committee is still in the process of screening participants for the church service, but they want to incorporate as much of the crew as they can.

"We want to use the talent within the crew to entertain, educate and hopefully inspire."

Mason might well be the perfect place for such community and cultural enlightenment. It's predecessor (DE 529), serving as a convoy escort in World War II, was the first destroyer to have a predominantly black crew.

Davis said Sunday's presentation took about four meetings to solidify, and with the help of shipmates like Disbursing Clerk 3rd Class Teresa Jones, the committee's secretary, it was a success.

"It involved looking up information about people the crew might be interested in," said Jones, "so they could come out and learn something about each other."

In addition to a veritable volume of facts about various notable black Americans - not to mention those posted elsewhere about the ship - the ceremony also included a taste of things to come, a "coming attractions" table with facts about notable figures in women's history, which the committee will commemorate in March.

Mason's philosophy was evident in one of the poems on display Sunday.

"Carry it on," wrote revolutionary poet Assata Shakur, "pass it down to the children. Pass it down."

This notion epitomizes Mason's cultural diversity and their willingness to spread their acceptance, knowledge and inspiration.

For related news, visit the USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75) Navy NewsStand page at www.news.navy.mil/local/cvn75.

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