By SYLLIA NEWSTEAD
Black History Month has been celebrated for many years to remember what African-Americans have done throughout history. It is celebrated in many communities and institutions by lectures, food and with various events.
According to History.com, this year the topic for Black History Month is “African-Americans in Times of War,” to remember those that helped to fight in the war and to mark the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I.
Throughout the years, Salisbury University has had many different speakers deliver lectures on Black History Month. There have also been performances, film screenings and panel discussions as well.
This year the Fulton Public Humanities Program, the Office of Multicultural Student Services and the Department of History co-sponsored the event. Dr. Ronit Stahl gave a lecture on “Pride and Prejudice: African American Chaplains at War” on Thursday.
Stahl is a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Pennsylvania and was a postdoctoral research associate at Washington University in St. Louis. Stahl talked about chaplains during World War I and how they helped to integrate the army through religion.
There was a chaplain school where all the African-American and Caucasian chaplains had to go together instead of having a segregated school. The number of chaplains started to grow and more of them were African-American.
Stahl highlighted some important events and people from the past, and showed newspaper articles that talks about the events that went on in that time period. One article she showed was from The Pittsburgh Courier dated Dec.12, 1942, with the headline reading “144 Negro Chaplains Serve in Armed Forces.”
In 1973, the military opened up to having woman chaplains and Chaplain Alice M. Henderson of the African Methodist Episcopal church was the first African-American woman. Chaplain Matthew A. Zimmerman was the first to serve chief of chaplain.
“The theme of African Americans at war is really important because African-Americans have served the nation in so many different ways for so long and so many under recognized ways,” Stahl said.
Stahl just wrote a book called “Enlisting Faith: How the Military Chaplaincy Shaped Religion and State in Modern America,” which took her about 10 years to write. It talks about religious pluralism in the military through the twentieth century.
She has been giving lectures about topics in relation to her book since it came out.
According to Stahl’s website, The Wall Street Journal says, “Enlisting Faith” deserves to be read by anyone interested in an underexplored aspect of the intersection of religion and the state or, even more, in the stories of those who honorably served them both.
“The military has been an engine for change in American society, so seeing how change happened in that space tells us something about America but also about the possibility for change in other spaces,” Stahl said.
There will be another guest speaker later this month, Dr. Clara Small, who will focus more on African-Americans in the Delmarva area.
There will be a soul food dinner in Commons with a performance from the Bernard Sweetney Quartet from 4:30 – 7:30 p.m. on Friday. There will also be a film screening of the documentary, Another Brother, held Feb. 15 at 7 p.m.
On Feb. 27 there will be a panel discussion about the 1960’s in Cambridge, Md. titled “The Cambridge Uprising: Looking Back, Moving Forward.”