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Black Emphasis Program


Black Emphasis Program Manager Mission Statement:

To provide focus on issues of employment, promotion, training, retention and career enhancement affecting black employees and applicants in NRCS in Pennsylvania. 

The term “Special Emphasis Programs” (SEP) refers to those programs which focus special attention on certain specific groups as a result of a particular law, regulation, or Executive Order.  Special Emphasis Programs have been initiated to address the employment-related concerns of groups not specifically included in other programs where a need for special emphasis or employment or employment concerns of such groups has been demonstrated. 

Program Objectives

  1. Increase the total number of blacks in all Professional, Administrative, Technical, Clerical, and other (PATCO) categories, series, and all grade levels;
  2. Eliminate concentrations of Blacks in single interval series to diversify and create advancement opportunities;
  3. Encourage the participation of Blacks in all NRCS-sponsored programs and activities;
  4. Provide a network of professional support for Blacks;
  5. Ensure that the Black community receives equal treatment in all aspects of employment; and
  6. Provide opportunities to participate in training and training programs such as career enhancement, graduate studies, and others

Black History Month Poster:



Join us in supporting the many activities taking place around the Nation in commemoration of National Black History Month.

Activities & Celebrations

January 15th of each year -

USDA 1890 National Scholars Programs

Each year USDA provides 34 full four-year scholarships to students attending any of the 18 historically Black 1890 Institutions. This program is open to ALL students completing their senior year of high school, scoring a minimum of 1000 on the SAT, or a score of 21 or higher on the ACT. Must maintain a 3.0 GPA or better on a 4.0 scale. Scholars must major in agricultural fields, foods or natural sciences, or other related disciplines (biological sciences, pre-veterinary sciences, or computer science). This is a student employment program with non-competitive conversion eligibility.

Martin Luther King Jr. Birthday -

Actual birthday is January 15, 1929, but the federal holiday is the 3rd Monday in January of each year. It was on January 20, 1986 that the USA first observed Martin Luther King, Jr.'s holiday as a National holiday. Also, Dr. King’s upcoming birthday will be on celebrated January 17, 2011.

February of each year -

Black History Month, which initially started as Negro History Week, was originated in 1926 by Dr. Carter G. Woodson, a prominent Harvard Ph.D. Dr. Woodson started Negro History Week because he felt that it was important to install a sense of pride, heritage, and honor in African-Americans.  He also hoped to encourage other racial groups to learn more about the African-American culture.

In February 1976, the one-week Black history celebration was expanded, covering the entire month of February to permit more time for observances and events nationally and locally.

The month of February was wisely chosen by Dr. Woodson because the month contained the birthdays of two individuals that had made tremendous contributions to Black Americans; Fredrick Douglas (Feb. 14th) and Abraham Lincoln (Feb. 12th).

The annual Black History Celebration is sponsored by the Association for the Study of Afro-American Life and History (ASALH) in Washington, D.C., which Dr. Woodson founded in 1915. Each year, the ASALH designates the official theme for the celebration.

June 19th of each year -

Juneteenth is the oldest known celebration commemorating the ending of slavery in the United States. Dating back to 1865, it was on June 19th that the Union soldiers, led by Major General Gordon Granger, landed at Galveston, Texas with news that the war had ended and that the enslaved were now free.  Note that this was two and a half years after President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation - which had become official January 1, 1863. The Emancipation Proclamation had little impact on the Texans due to the minimal number of Union troops to enforce the new Executive order. However, with the surrender of General Lee in April of 1865, and the arrival of General Granger’s regiment, the forces were finally strong enough to influence and overcome the resistance.

Recounting the memories of that great day in June of 1865 and its festivities would serve as motivation as well as a release from the growing pressures encountered in their new territory. The celebration of June 19th was coined "Juneteenth" and grew with more participation from descendants. The Juneteenth celebration was a time for reassuring each other, for praying and for gathering remaining family members. Juneteenth continued to be highly revered in Texas decades later, with many former slaves and descendants making an annual pilgrimage back to Galveston on this date.

Through the efforts of those at the grassroots level to those on the state and national levels, Juneteenth celebrations are now held in most, if not all, 50 states.

December 26th - January 1 of each year -

Kwanzaa, the African-American cultural holiday conceived and developed by Dr. Maulana Ron Karenga, was first celebrated on December 26, 1966. Kwanzaa is traditionally celebrated from December 26 through January 1, with each day focused on Nguzo Saba, or the seven principles. Derived from the Swahili phrase "matunda ya kwanza" which means "first fruits", Kwanzaa is rooted in the first harvest celebrations practiced in various cultures in Africa. Kwanzaa seeks to enforce a connectedness to African cultural identity, provide a focal point for the gathering of African peoples, and to reflect upon the Nguzo Saba, or the seven principles, that have sustained Africans. Africans and African-Americans of all religious faiths and backgrounds practice Kwanzaa. 

Organizational Links

National NRCS Black Emphasis Program
National Organization of Professional NRCS Employees (NOPBNRCSE)
Blacks in Government (BIG)
100 Black Men of America
Congress of Racial Equality
National Urban League

Contact Information

Kefeni Kejela
Special Emphasis Program Manager
Lancaster Field Office

(717) 874-2555