Dover AFB takes a pause for race relations

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Faith Schaefer
  • 436th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

Dover Air Force Base hosted a three-day, multi-event pause for race relations, Aug. 5-7, 2020.

Team Dover provided a forum for honest and respectful conversations regarding race, justice and equality. The pause for race relations invited Airmen to participate in a variety of thought-provoking events, provided resources and welcomed dialogue on difficult topics.

Col. Matthew E. Jones, 436th Airlift Wing commander, proposed the initiative to enhance the readiness of Dover AFB and reaffirm Dover Airmen’s commitment to dignity, honor and respect.

“As the nation is in the midst of necessary dialogue, this pause for race relations is our next step in this conversation,” said Jones. “The topic of race, justice and equality for all is integral to our military readiness, operational effectiveness and our shared commitment as Airmen.”

Throughout the week, Bedrock, Dover’s innovation lab, hosted a variety of speakers with varying backgrounds to provide thought-provoking speeches and stories.

The new space also held Transforming Racial Understanding through Education (TRUE) dialogues. These TRUE dialogues provided a unique opportunity for Airmen to have honest discussions in small groups with their peers over several days. Over the next year, the Airmen will have the opportunity to meet to continue racial justice education.

Unit commanders were encouraged to set aside time during the week to host discussions about these issues. This included large and small group discussions, in which Airmen had a chance to share their experiences and express unity through diversity in a casual setting with their colleagues.


“It shows Dover Airmen that our leadership notices that this is an issue and acknowledges that this is an issue,” said Master Sgt. Lakeva Parrott, public health flight chief, 436th Operational Medical Readiness Squadron. “Col. Jones is taking steps to make sure that everyone has a safe place to talk about the things that are on their mind in a constructive way.”

Many hobbyist photographers and videographers from Team Dover volunteered to capture the events of the week in photos and videos. Airmen were invited to be photographed with a sign that provokes discussion and reflection. These photographs were displayed in powerful black-and-white collages in multiple locations across the base.

Airmen from diverse backgrounds joined together to have one-on-one unscripted dialogues, in which they discussed their different experiences and learned to better understand each other’s perspectives.

An open mic night was held as a venue for service members to express their thoughts through singing, poetry and other forms of performance art.

“In the past, I feel like we have really shied away from talking about difficult topics, especially about race,” said Staff Sgt. Karie Cobb, public health technician, 436th Operational Medical Readiness Squadron. “I would love to see this continue and to see this spark conversations across the wing and across the world.”