NEWS | March 1, 2021

Special emphasis program managers discuss Black History Month, inclusion

By Josh T. Cohen

As Black History Month draws to a close, Vermont Guard Special Emphasis Program Managers Army Staff Sgt. Selena Correa and Air Force Tech Sgt. Kirby Addison joined Maj. Gen. Gregory Knight for an additional discussion on the month’s events following a Feb. 19 “TAG's Corner.”

Highlighting ideas on increasing diversity and inclusion throughout the Guard, Addison said progress and lasting change are necessary “in order to be the best nation we can be.” Addison said that support from all command levels is essential to achieving these goals.

Black history as taught in the United States should be revised, Addison said, moving beyond well-known events and personalities to the more obscure. “Not everyone can be a Martin Luther King.” The Air Guard special emphasis program manager said Black History Month should recognize past events and actions that should not be repeated.

Correa said that “leaders need to talk with people who don’t look like them...you want to have that uncomfortable conversation.” For Correa, Black History Month is a time to reflect and celebrate, “a simple reminder of everything my ancestors went through.” Correa said sacrifices made in the past due to racial injustice should not be forgotten. "Because of their sacrifices I am able to serve the country I love as an equal, not as three-fifths of a person," she added.

Vermont’s adjutant general agreed, stating there is a need to “get the caustic influences out.” Knight said in order to change a culture, leaders must change the climate. To accomplish such a sweeping change he added, “Good ideas don’t have a rank.”

“Diversity gives us something our adversaries don’t have,” Knight added.