News

Offutt establishes African American Heritage Council

  • Published
  • By Kendra Williams, 55th Wing Public Affairs

The African American Heritage Council was formed in September 2021 with an emphasis on sharing and celebrating African American history and heritage with the members of the Offutt community.

The goal of the AAHC is to help provide awareness and inclusiveness for Team Offutt members 365 days a year. This includes mentorship, guidance, networking opportunities and supporting programs aligned with the goals and objectives of the committee.

“A few of the other members and myself were on an African American Heritage Council when we were stationed in Korea together and it was great,” said Tech Sgt. Jo Gary, 55th Intelligence Support Squadron weapons and tactics flight chief. “It was amazing! It was a very active chapter and I really enjoyed it.”

Gary, AAHC president, said a big part of the council’s goals is to provide support for victims of racism. She described an incident at a previous base where the victim was having difficulties following an act of racism. The committee was there for the Airman, who was eventually medically discharged.

“I was not able to help them with their issues with racism, but I was glad to help them along every step of the way through their last days as active duty, just as a warm and familiar face,” said Gary. “They are back home with family now doing a lot better, shifting their dreams.”

The AAHC also hopes to connect with individuals throughout the community who may feel misunderstood and help to close some of the cultural barriers that have improved but still exist.

“There was another Black Airman in my unit around that same time who seemed to be having some trouble and planned to get out of the Air Force at the end of her contract,” said Gary. “I fought hard for her and showed her that she can be protected, respected and thrive in the Air Force if that's what she wants. Her reputation completely turned around in our unit, as well as her desire to stay in the Air Force. Not only did she reenlist, she studied hard and made staff sergeant that same year.

Gary said she has received nothing but great support from her leadership.

“After I told our commander about some incidences, he really encouraged me to go forth and start the AAHC,” said Gary.  “Our name is our focus, but we are here for everyone to come out, enjoy each other’s company, and break down those barriers African Americans like myself have faced in the workplace. We can't do that without everyone's support.”

The AAHC plans to hold meetings on the first Tuesday of each month. For more information, contact Gary at jo.gary@us.af.mil.