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Clifton Reed getting into aircraft Captain Clifton Reed at Bryan Air Force Base, Texas in September 1952. Reed will be one of five panelists at the Woods Hole Black History Month event commemorating African Americans in Times of War.
headshot of Roger HarrisPanelist Roger Harris, a U.S. Marine Corp veteran, is featured in "The Vietnam War" documentary series by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick. Clips from the 10-part series will be shown February 22 at the Woods Hole Black History Month event.
Dancers at Harambee Musical entertainment at the annual Harambee, or ethnic feast, will be provided by the Cape Cod African Dance and Drum ensemble.

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Feb 8, 2018
Contact: Shelley Dawicki

Woods Hole Black History Month Events Showcase African Americans in Times of War

February 22 Events Include Film, Panel Discussion and Annual Harambee with Musical Entertainment

Woods Hole Black History Month events will focus on the achievements of blacks in the Vietnam War, with a February 22 film, panel discussion and the annual Harambee. All events are free and open to the public and will be held at the Marine Biological Laboratory (MBL) in Woods Hole. "African Americans in Times of War” is the national theme for 2018 Black History Month activities and commemorates the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I.

On Thursday, February 22, clips from the new documentary film “The Vietnam War” followed by a panel session will commence at 2:00 p.m. in the MBL’s Speck Auditorium in the Rowe Laboratory at the corner of Water and MBL Streets in Woods Hole. “The Vietnam War” is a new 10-part, 18-hour documentary film series by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick that aired on PBS nationwide in the fall of 2017. Six years in the making, the film features testimony from nearly 100 witnesses, including many Americans who fought in the war and others who opposed it as well as Vietnamese combatants and civilians from both the winning and losing sides.

The panel session after the film will provide perspectives from African Americans who served in the Vietnam War, including one of those featured in the film, as they explore the complex meanings and implications of the international struggle and its aftermath. Panelists include Ron Armstead, Roger Harris, Larry Johnson, Clifton Reed, and Ervin Russell.

Ron Armstead is the Executive Director for the Congressional Black Caucus Veterans Braintrust (CBCVB), an advisory group to the Congressional Black Caucus located in Washington, DC, and a past consultant to the late Secretary Jesse Brown’s Veterans Administration’s Advisory Committee on Minority Veterans. He holds a Master’s Degree in City Planning (MCP) with a concentration in Affordable Housing and Community Development from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). He is a Licensed Social Worker (LSW) in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts with over 30 years of experience, and is currently on an extended leave of absence from Howard University’s Graduate School of Social Work Doctoral Program focusing on Social Policy and Planning.

Roger Harris, who was featured in “The Vietnam War” documentary, was born and raised in the Roxbury section of Boston and attended Boston Public Schools. He also earned his degrees at Boston area colleges and universities, starting with a bachelor’s degree from Boston University, where he was a football standout, to a master’s degree from the University of Massachusetts Boston, and a Ph.D. from Boston College. Harris served three years of active duty with the United States Marine Corps, including a thirteen-month tour of duty with a combat unit in Vietnam.

Harris has devoted 42 years working in K-12 schools and universities in greater Boston. He has worked in traditional public and charter public high schools, middle schools, and elementary schools as a classroom teacher, athletic coach, mentor, dean, assistant headmaster, principal, and superintendent, earning national and international recognition as an outstanding educator. Among his honors are the U.S. Department of Education’s National Distinguished Principal Award, the Massachusetts Principal of the Year Award, the Boston University School of Education’s Distinguished Alumni Award, the John Stanford American Hero Award, and the President’s Award from the NAACP of Boston.

Larry Johnson is a certified property manager and president of LJ Enterprises, Inc., specializing in property management and educational consulting. Johnson holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Business Administration from University of New Haven and has pursued post-graduate studies in Adult Education at Bridgewater State University. He has worked in the real estate management industry for more than four decades, has taught at community colleges in Massachusetts, at Virginia Tech and on various military posts, and in Poland. In 2018 he received the Institute of Real Estate Management Foundation’s Lloyd D. Hanford, Sr., Distinguish Instructor Award. He is a U.S. Army veteran who served in Vietnam with the 521st Military Intelligence Battalion in Bien Hoa in 1966-67. After leaving Vietnam his final duty station was Fort Huachuca, Arizona.

Clifton Reed served in the U.S. Air Force from 1952 to 1968, starting as a single engine fighter pilot and later serving as command headquarters staff officer before retiring as a captain.  He then taught mathematics and science in Wilmington Public Schools for four years before joining the Massachusetts Department of Education in 1972 as Bureau Director for Vocational Programs, a position he held until 1989. He has served as a member of the boards for the Massachusetts Pre-Engineering Program, Aviation and Space Education Council, and the Edward W. Brooke III Educational Foundation, Inc. and as a study group leader at the Harvard Institute for Learning in Retirement.

Ervin L. “Tootsie” Russell served in the U.S. Army’s 23rd Infantry Division from January 20, 1969 to December 24, 1971. He has been chaplain of the Dudley L. Brown VFW Post 2846 in Onset, MA since 1999 and for 32 years has been a member of the Mass Vigil Society, an organization dedicated to a full accounting of all POW/MIAs. He was awarded the “Outstanding Service to Veterans of All Periods” certificate from the Congressional Black Caucus Veterans Braintrust in 2003.

Harambee, an annual ethnic potluck feast celebrating everyone of every race, will take place starting at 4:30 p.m. in the Main Dining Hall of the MBL’s Swope Center. Entertainment will be provided by the Cape Cod African Dance and Drum, an ensemble of dancers and drummers who practice traditional West African and Afro-Caribbean dance and drumming on Cape Cod and the New England area. Former Woods Hole Black History Month Chair Lionel Hall will serve as DJ for the Harambee, which ends at 7:30 p.m.

Woods Hole Black History Month events are sponsored by the Marine Biological Laboratory, National Marine Fisheries Service (NOAA’s Northeast Fisheries Science Center), Sea Education Association, U.S. Geological Survey Woods Hole Coastal and Marine Science Center, Woods Hole Research Center, and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.

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