YOKOSUKA, Japan (NNS) -- Members of the Naval Supply Systems Command (NAVSUP) Fleet Logistics Center Yokosuka (FLCY) Multi-Cultural Committee hosted the 2019 African American Heritage and Black History Month celebration, Feb. 15, on board Commander, Fleet Activities Yokosuka.
The theme of the celebration was "Black Migration," designated because of the 6 million African Americans who moved out of the south to cities across the nation in search of better jobs and social and political opportunities.
Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) Special Agent Joshua Jefferson was the guest speaker for the event. He touched on the demographics and history of Africans within his organization and said black history is not separate history.
"This is all of our history; this is American history, and we need to understand that," said Jefferson. "It has such an impact on future generation and future values and how we as a nation view those who are different than us."
In addition to guest speaker and educational readings, the event provided an opportunity for command personnel to experience unique perspectives, while learning about the culture and roles of African Americans throughout naval history. Entertainment included a guitar solo and songs by Kazuhiko Sato, a member of the FLCY regional services department.
"I used to play live music at the CPO (Chief Petty Officer) and Officer's Clubs on different military bases," said Sato, a Japanese master labor contract employee who has been with the command many years. "I started playing the guitar when I was 12 years old and was inspired by the music of Sam Cooke, Otis Redding, Marvin Gaye and Al Green. I really enjoy playing music for this event every year."
NAVSUP Fleet Logistics Center Yokosuka has a blended and diverse workforce comprised of active-duty military, U.S. civil servants and foreign nationals.
"Diversity drives change and makes the military stronger," said NAVSUP FLC Yokosuka Commanding Officer Capt. Frank Nevarez. "African Americans have made tremendous contributions to our country and our Navy throughout history."
More than 58,000 of the Navy's enlisted force identifies as African American. Currently, African Americans account for about 18 percent of Navy active-duty personnel. That figure includes 3,916 officers, 54,063 enlisted and 436 warrant officers.
Nevarez said the Navy has come a long way, but must continue to make the military, including the civil-service workforce, more diverse.
"Diversity is a driver that compels naval leaders to see beyond our current limitations and grab on to the capability that is within our reach and in our ranks," he said. "Diversity of background, experience, demographics, and perspectives is what fortifies us. It is the glue that keeps us at the tip of the spear and able to accomplish our various missions around the world, while at the same time keeping the enemy at bay."
Observances such as the African American Heritage Month celebration held in Yokosuka, Japan, every February were created by the U.S. Navy to increase awareness, mutual respect and understanding of the different cultures that comprise the sea service. These types of events are designed to enhance cross-cultural awareness and promote harmony among all members of the workforce.
NAVSUP FLC Yokosuka is one of eight FLCs under Commander, NAVSUP. Headquartered in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania, and employing a diverse, worldwide workforce of more than 22,500 military and civilian personnel, NAVSUP's mission is to provide supplies, services, and quality-of-life support to the Navy and joint warfighter.
For more news from Naval Supply Systems Command, visit www.navy.mil/local/navsup/.