Observance celebrates evolution of African American culture, music

Lena Stange/USAG Wiesbaden Public Affairs
The U.S. Army Europe Band performs during a Black History Month Observance Feb. 21 at the Tony Bass Auditorium. The band played songs highlighting the influence of Africans and African Americans on the evolution of music.

Lena Stange
USAG Wiesbaden Public Affairs

Twelve million people had to leave their home countries because of the transatlantic slave trade, and 1.5 million did not make it to their final destination, said the guest speaker at the Black History Month Observance Feb. 21 on Clay Kaserne.
This year’s observance had a special theme — the Black Migrations — because the year 2019 marks the 400th anniversary of the arrival of the first slaves in Jamestown in 1619, said Michael Bartelle, guest speaker and vice president of overseas operations at Andrews Federal Credit Union.
Even though the transatlantic slave trade was abolished in 1833, it continued even after the Civil War concluded in 1865, Bartelle said.
In 1870, black Americans were counted in the census for the first time. At that time, the United States comprised approximately 38 million people, 4.5 million of whom were black. The vast majority were located in the southern part of the United States, he said.
Since the conditions for black people did not change, “they were looking for greater opportunities for themselves, and their Families and their future. Thus, began the first migration of those going from the south to the north,” Bartelle said.
“This evening, we ask all to reflect on the cultural, scientific, political, economic and military contributions of African Americans,” said Col. Greg Holden, the commander of the 66th Military Intelligence Brigade. “We remember and honor those who rose above inhumane conditions to become leaders not only in society but in the defense of our nation.”
The U.S. Army Europe Band guided the audience through the evolution of American music and showed the influences of Africans and African Americans on music.
“The people of Africa have a culture incredibly rich in diversity and distinction,” said Sgt. Andrew Hahn, percussionist and equal opportunity leader with the USAREUR Band. “Even from the most ancient times African people have been sharing unique musical concepts with the world. … The next time you turn on the radio and you find yourself grooving to a piece of music, take a moment to think of the influence that African Americans had in bringing that innovative music to your stereo.”