African American veterans honored in exhibit aboard USS Hornet on Veterans Day

The struggles of Black military service members is the focus of a new exhibit aboard the USS Hornet in Alameda.

The African Americans in the Military exhibit highlights their contributions, but it also looks at how they’ve fought for freedom at home and abroad.

It was a prominent part of the Veterans Day event on the aircraft carrier Friday.

"If we don’t understand our past, we will have trouble with our future," said Leon Watkins, founder of The Walking Ghosts of Black History.

Watkins’ nonprofit made the exhibit possible and looks at how African Americans have faced an uphill battle even before the nation’s independence.

From enslaved black soldiers during the American Revolution and the Civil War, to the fight for civil rights in the 1950s, the focus is to educate and empower.

"If you can teach one, you’ve succeeded and hopefully that spreads," Watkins said. "That is the most gratifying thing."

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The exhibit features the first African American generals and admirals, medal of honor winners, and the first Black female combat pilot.

Other service members overcame racism and adversity showing great courage and strength.

"I think it’s awesome," said Army veteran Don Davis. "Those that came before me paved a way to make life easier for myself and all other veterans and their families. It means everything."

By promoting the achievements of those who served, organizers aim to spotlight their valor and pride.

"It takes a special person to join the military because it’s not just for the glitz and glamor," Watkins said. "We provide the blanket of freedom for the 99% that sleeps under it. That is truly a special commitment on behalf of that one percent."