USS RONALD REAGAN, At Sea (NNS) -- Even though on a surge deployment to the western Pacific, hundreds of Sailors aboard USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) packed into the ship's hangar bay Feb. 22 to observe Black History Month.
The Ronald Reagan Strike Group (RRSG) Diversity Committee organized the event, which concluded the month-long observance of Black Heritage Month. The national theme of this year's activities was "From Slavery to Freedom: Africans in the Americas."
This year's celebration included cultural dances by committee members, songs by the Ronald Reagan gospel choir "The Storm," and a timeline presentation of black accomplishments throughout history.
"You can't look at any department, squadron, or embarked staff on board Ronald Reagan without easily seeing the contributions of African-Americans in today's Navy," said Capt. Terry B. Kraft, Ronald Reagan's commanding officer, who spoke during the event. "We also can't forget that it was President Ronald Reagan who signed into law the bill that made Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day a national holiday in 1983."
According to Yeoman 2nd Class Stefanie L. Binion, the RRSG Diversity Committee president, there were many obstacles to overcome for this year's celebration. The event, which had been originally planned to be in port, was forced to change due to the recent surge deployment.
Despite the challenges of holding an event at sea, Binion said the committee was up to the challenge and chose to put on the celebration.
"It's important to have events like this each month to educate the crew," said Binion. "It's a chance to get to know your fellow shipmates, as well as learn about their culture. A lot of hard work and dedication has gone into preparing for this year's event. We were determined to make it happen."
Despite this being the second year in a row that Ronald Reagan has been deployed during Black Heritage Month, the crew showed up in large numbers to watch the presentation.
"This is their best show," said Chief Aviation Boatswain's Mate (Handling) Leonard Taylor Jr. "It was educational, and it showed what African-Americans have contributed to this country."
Ronald Reagan was commissioned in July 2003, making it the ninth and newest Nimitz-class nuclear-powered aircraft carrier. The ship is named after the 40th U.S. President, and carries the motto of "Peace through Strength," a recurrent theme during the Reagan presidency.
The Ronald Reagan Carrier Strike Group departed San Diego Jan. 27 on a surge deployment in order to fill the role of USS Kitty Hawk (CV 63), the Navy's only permanently forward deployed aircraft carrier, as it undergoes scheduled maintenance in Yokuska, Japan.
For related news, visit the USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) Navy NewsStand page at www.news.navy.mil/local/cvn76/.