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City Council celebrates contributions of African American veterans


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City Council

Moments before kicking off their annual Black History Month celebration, the Council adopted a resolution recognizing the African American veteran community for their achievements, sacrifice, and contributions made to the City of Boston.

The resolution, offered by Councilors Flynn and Edwards, highlights the significant role African Americans have played in our military history since the founding of our country, despite enduring racial discrimination and having faced limited opportunities.

The resolution made mention of the 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry Regiment — the first military unit consisting of free black soldiers fighting for the Union Army — who displayed exceptional bravery and honor during the Civil War. It talked of World War II and the Tuskegee Airmen, an all African American Army Air Corps aviation unit based in Tuskegee, Alabama, that trained black pilots and navigators, overcoming segregation and discrimination to become one of the most respected fighter groups in the war.

Councilor Edwards comes from a military background and shared a heartfelt story about her great-uncle, Selman Mangrum, who served in North Korea and died on Heartbreak Hill, saying “It’s important that we recognize not only African American veterans in Black History Month, but know that [...] all of the freedoms that we have today, all of the things that we celebrate in terms of my ability to be here on the City Council, our ability to be in this country, to speak freely — all of those things were paid for by veterans and are celebrated year-round. The fact that we are celebrating African American veterans is in particular [important] because so many of the freedoms that we celebrate today, they were denied despite fighting for this country.”