‘They dedicated their lives during a time when racism was at an all-time high’: a committee starts to honor African American Vets

August 25, 2023 /

Kern County Parks and Recreation District 5 Commissioner Ucedrah Osby requested to start a committee dedicated to creating an African American Veterans Memorial. The Committee was thought of to honor the African American Vets Hall that was located in MLK Park in Bakersfield.

“The only African American Vets Hall for miles where our ancestors used to come and gather and celebrate being Black and having community there. That was the only place,” said Osby. 

Her plan for the committee is for them to come together to discuss designs and locations to honor the African-American Veterans. 

“A statue, a monument, something people can see and they can visit and they can be attached to. Something with the education around the African American history in Kern County,” said Osby.

Osby stated this is important to ensure that their history is never forgotten. 

“So our history can live on. Our ancestors can always be remembered that they served our country. They dedicated their lives during a time when racism was at an all-time high,” said Osby. 

The memorial is also personal to Osby because her uncle was a veteran who used to gather in the African American Vets Hall to be with the community and “break bread.” 

Her dedication to this building and honoring the vets is not recent. In 2020, she and other community members started fighting to save the building when they saw it on a surplus list.

“We said no, please save this building because it has so much rich history. It shows that we were here and that we were involved,” said Osby. 

Now that the property belongs to the city, Osby requested the funds from the sale be used in District Five; therefore, while the memorial may not be where the vets hall was, it will be in district five. The committee is open to all community members who want to join, and they can contact Osby via email uosby0617@gmail.com

“I implore them to come out and be a part of the planning to pay homage to our elders in the Black community,” said Osby. 

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JaNell Gore

Ja'Nell Gore is a student at Cal State Bakersfield. In addition to writing for Kern Sol News she is a poet who loves any chance she has to perform and be with her community.