Story by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Susan C. Damman

BREMERTON, Wash. – Sailors stationed aboard USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) celebrated Black History Month with a ceremony in the forecastle Feb. 26.

Stennis’ Multicultural Committee organized the event highlighting the contributions of African Americans throughout history.

“It’s about the past and present,” said Stennis’ commanding officer, Capt. Mike Wettlaufer. “The opportunity that Martin Luther King Jr. spoke about and his legacy carries on and exists right here. It exists here on John C. Stennis. It exists certainly in the United States Navy. It exists in the military, and it also exists in America. But it’s up to all of us to make it happen.”

Stennis Sailors gave spoken word performances, read excerpts from King’s “I Have a Dream” speech, and performed a dance routine as part of the celebration. The event included a multimedia presentation about black leaders from history and aboard John C. Stennis.

Chief Aviation Boatswain’s Mate (Fuels) Louis Citizen from Houston participated in the ceremony because he values the importance of diversity and equal opportunity.

“No matter how we may have been raised, we choose to change,” said Chief Citizen. “And that’s one thing that makes the U.S. military one of the strongest. We are diverse.”

The event emphasized the importance of remembering the past to create a better future.

“It brings about awareness,” said Electrician’s Mate Fireman Marquis Owens from San Diego. “Even though King’s speech and the dream happened in the past, it’s still relevant today.”

For more news from USS John C. Stennis visit or