Commander, Submarine Group Two


Second Annual Black History Month Concert Celebrates Diversity

GROTON, Conn. (NNS) -- More than 200 people attended the 2nd annual Black History Month Gospel Choir Concert at the base chapel in Groton Feb. 11.

Rear Adm. Rick Breckenridge, commander, Submarine Group 2 reflected on the significance of this month.

"Black History Month is an important month for our nation and for our Navy," said Breckenridge. "We really try to make this a special month where we reflect upon the great contributions of African Americans to our Navy and our nation."

Breckenridge acknowledged civic leaders, the church choirs and attendees for their participation in the annual concert.

"We have titans in our community who are attending today's concert," said Breckenridge. "Enjoy this moment, thank one and all for coming tonight."

Mayors of Groton and Montville attended the annual event, which was organized by Yeoman 1st Class Joseph Brickhouse, who explained why he chose to celebrate the month through gospel music.

"We celebrate the heritage of black history through the genre called gospel music," said Brickhouse. "As we participate in this celebration we remember that song, when sang in unison, is not about a single voice, but an intense and communal experience in which every individual receives consolation for sorrow and gains joy through a shared experience."

Joshua Nelson, a well-known singer in the Jewish community, sang popular songs by Mahalia Jackson during the concert.

In addition to Nelson's participation, six churches from New Jersey and Connecticut participated in the annual event to include: Mount Olive Baptist Church, Hartford, Conn.; Shiloh Baptist Church, Hartford, Conn.; People's Baptist Church, Newark, N.J.; Walls Temple African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church, New London, Conn.; Emanuel Church of God in Christ, Norwich, Conn., and St. John's Christian Church, Groton, Conn.

Calvin Darling from the People's Baptist Church was excited to perform in front of a military audience, something he had never done before.

"This is the first time I have done anything with the armed services," said Darling, who usually only performs before various churches. "I'm interested in how it will go tonight because I believe it's important to participate in this event."

The Navy joins the nation in observing African American/Black History Month during the month of February. Established in 1926 as Negro History Week by Harvard historian Dr. Carter G. Woodson and the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History, the observation was expanded in 1976 by then-President Gerald R. Ford when he declared the entire month of February Black History Month.