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USDA Celebrates Black History Month

                                                                         News Feature                                                           3/4/2011

USDA Celebrates Black History Month

Black History Month is a month set aside to learn, honor, and celebrate the achievements of black men and women throughout history. Since its inception, Black History Month has always been celebrated in February. Find out how Black History Month originated, why February was chosen, and what the annual theme for Black History Month is for this year.

For the last several years, the United States Department of Agriculture Agencies of Farm Service Agency (FSA), Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and Rural Development (RD) have partnered together to hold annual Black History month celebrations in February. This tradition began when William Hunt served as State Conservationist for Minnesota and has continued with Don Baloun.

This year’s event was planned by Cutrina Moreland, NRCS; Nigatu Tadesse, FSA; and Rick Jackson, NRCS. This committee brought together all three USDA agencies for an opportunity to learn more about Black History.

Yosef Mgeni, a Consultant in Diversity served as one of the keynote speakers. He spoke about “The Civil War to Civil Rights and Beyond.” He said that “Lessons on our future come from our past.” Mgenti reminded the audience that “History is how people use their talent; history is a clock to tell their time of the day, who they are and what we are.”

Black history in Minnesota has been significant. Black women and men were big contributors in the community, education and in Minnesota businesses.

John Beckwith, Assistant State Conservationist for Operations, NRCS said “Mis-education left out information about black history. This event has been valuable in that we as employees are better informed about black history.”

Adam Czech, Public Affairs Officer for RD said he appreciated the efforts of the committee in putting this event together for the USDA employees.

Glenn Schaeffer, Executive Officer, FSA thanked the USDA employees for attending the Black History. Schaeffer said that by being at these events you learn more about history and the bringing together of our cultures.

Ray Morris, Executive Director, Federal Executive Board gave remarks about “African Americans in America’s Civil War.” In 1858 Minnesota became a free state. This was significant to the early history of Minnesota. Since the civil war, Black Americans have made strides in America. In recent times, having the first African-American President, Barack Obama was a major milestone achievement for all Americans.

The event concluded with the opportunity of the program participants being able to view several exhibits and sample African-American foods.

Thank you to Cutrina Moreland, Nigatua Tadesse and Rick Jackson in planning another successful 2011 Black History event.


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