Incirlik Airmen celebrate Juneteenth with U.S Consulate, Türkiye

  • Published
  • By Capt. Katie Cashin
  • 39th Air Base Wing

 “The currency of diplomacy is optimism,” - Ambassador Aurelia Brazeal, the first African American woman to reach the Senior Foreign Service.

The U.S. Consulate in Adana hosted a celebration of American hope, freedom, and optimism at a Juneteenth community celebration June 6, in collaboration with the Incirlik Juneteenth Committee , for Turkish and American friends from Adana, Mersin, Gaziantep and Hatay provinces. 

Juneteenth is the day on which the Americans commemorate the end of slavery in the United States. It was declared a federal holiday in 2021.

The Adana Juneteenth event gathered over 110 people from the U.S. Consulate, partner organizations like the Turkish American Association, and the greater Adana community. Those who attended had the opportunity to learn about the Juneteenth federal holiday, view a photo exhibit of historic African American diplomats, listen to the Incirlik Gospel Choir, and hear remarks from Leola Calzolai-Stewart, producer of “The American Diplomat.”

In addition to their workplace responsibilities, the Incirlik Gospel Choir rehearsed for several weeks leading up to the official diplomatic event.

Gospel music plays a significant role in the collective memory of the African American community, according to U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Jessica Broadway-Hodge, Noncommissioned Officer in Charge of Financial Operations. She said “A lot of individuals grew up listening to gospel music making it a huge part our lives today. The gospel celebration event is here to give everyone a little taste of home or even assist in honing back into their spirituality. Overall, the intent is to spread the word through song.”

U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Larnell Smith, Weapons Systems Security Group Executive Assistant, and conductor of the gospel choir, shared his experience, “Events like Juneteenth play a significant role in building community for African American members stationed in Turkiye in several ways.”

 “Celebrating Juneteenth helps African American service members stay connected to their cultural heritage and history, fostering a sense of identity and belonging even when they are far from home,” said Smith. “These events bring people together, creating a support network which is crucial in a foreign country where so many may feel isolated. These events can also engage the local Turkish community, fostering cultural exchange and mutual respect between American service members and their hosts.”

The guest of honor was Ms. Leola Calzolai-Stewart, producer of the American Diplomat, who recounted her experience and perspective of Juneteenth and noted, “It is why Juneteenth is such an important day. It is a chance to reflect upon and celebrate a freedom that would not be denied. And truthfully, that struggle continues every day in America, as it does for every minority group in every country around the world seeking the full freedoms enjoyed by the majority.”

“Maybe the greater truth is that ideals are just that,” Calzolai-Stewart said. “Impossibly high but critical aspirations toward which we must reach and strive, and that we should celebrate every step in the direction of greater freedom, opportunity, and equality for all.”

Juneteenth is celebrated at Incirlik Air Base every year. This year, the community has organized a series of cook outs, pool parties, information sessions, and more to raise awareness for the holiday.

To request community engagements with U.S. personnel assigned to Incirlik, visit our website at or contact