Festival in the park

  • Published
  • By Kevin Gaddie
  • Team Eglin Public Affairs

The African-American Heritage Festival was held here Feb. 28 at Unity Park.  This year’s theme was "Black Migrations," tracking the continuous movement of African-Americans from the South to the industrialized North and beyond.

“Those of us who wear the uniform fight for people around the world who are under-represented,” Col. John Schuliger, 96th Civil Engineer Group commander, said in opening remarks.  “I’m happy this occasion celebrates our African-American history.”

Next were two gospel selections sung by the Eglin Brotherhood Choir.

“Gospel music dates back to the days of slavery,” said Capt. Martin Lister, 96th Test Wing Chapel.  “Hope came alive from spiritual songs.  They gave enslaved Africans motivation as they worked through their struggles.”  

A spoken word segment and a trivia contest followed.  The audience answered questions related to African-American history, notable people, music and other topics.

Airman 1st Class Khandi Taylor, 96th Force Support Squadron, enjoyed participating in the question-and-answer session.

“There’s a lot of knowledge and education being shared, and people really know their history,” she said.  

A step show was put on by Phi Beta Sigma, a local social organization. 

The event ended with a talent show, titled “Showtime at the Eglin Apollo.”  Eglin members delivered singing, musical and spoken word performances voted on by the audience.  Airman 1st Class Earnest McCray, 96th FSS, won the contest with a rap solo.

Capt. Ashley Johnson, 96th Test Wing Legal Office, hoped the event gave the attendees a family picnic feeling.   

“We wanted the festival to bring elements of African-American culture that everyone could enjoy, regardless of race,” said the event project officer.