AFTC honors Black History Month: Raquel March

  • Published
  • By Tiffany Holloway
  • Air Force Test Center

For the entire month of February, we are celebrating up-and-coming Black leaders within the Air Force Test Center. This week, we are highlighting Raquel March working out of Arnold Engineering Development Complex, Tenn., with a question-and-answer session with Tiffany Holloway, AFTC public affairs director.

Tell me about yourself.

I’m a Middle Tennessean in residency, education and career. When I chose my major in communication at Tennessee State University, Nashville, I had dreams of leaving a small town and beginning a broadcast career in a large city. As my life became more guided by my Christian beliefs, “big city broadcaster” was not in my life path, but I wouldn’t trade my path for any other.

I’ve been working in support of our nation’s defense since 1994 when I started in public affairs at AEDC, headquartered at Arnold Air Force Base, near Tullahoma, Tennessee. I began my career in PA with the mission support contractor conducting tours and writing news releases. As my career progressed, I added skills that included managing the commander’s access channel and marketing the complex by managing and attending technical conferences.  Later, I became the base newspaper editor. By taking on different roles within the contractor PA office and because AEDC is so fascinating, it was difficult to become bored. There wasn’t a time when I was only working in one focus area but multiple duties at the same time.

After a 25-year PA career with the contractor, I had the opportunity to accept a position with the Air Force public affairs office as the chief of operations in 2019. It’s a fulfilling position where I’ve learned the “why” behind the products our PA office produces. After completing the Defense Information School Public Affairs and Communication Strategy Qualification course, I was excited to share what I learned with our contractor PA office. It’s important that every PA team member understands the “why” in order to develop an effective communication strategy in meeting the command’s goals.

So, what advice would you give to someone who is looking to further their education by going into Public Affairs? What are the benefits/challenges?

In order to be an effective communicator, you must always look for ways to continue your education or refine your craft throughout your career. The communication field has changed so dramatically since the 90s.

You should remain relevant in new technology. For my generation, the computer as opposed to the word processor or a digital news subscription opposed to the newspaper. Now, we must keep up with ever-changing social media options and trends to communicate with different audiences.

What’s a fun fact that your colleagues do not know about you?

Before my career with AEDC, I worked more than two years at The Nashville Network with the “Nashville Now” show hosted by Ralph Emery. “Nashville Now” was a live variety television program featuring interviews and performances by mostly country music artists and occasionally comedians. I was an intern there and was hired after graduation to assist with preparing artist’s music copy for the house band, assisting the show writers with Shotgun Red, a puppet, skits and being a gopher for the artists. Don’t get too excited, most of the gopher work was mostly with the artists’ managers. When there was an opportunity to meet an artist, it’s interesting how artists were sometimes nicer than their managers.

Are there any books by African American/Black authors that interest you? Why?

I began reading “Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You” by Jason Reynolds and Ibram X. Kendi. It is a history of racism and how we see ourselves in racism.

My next read is “Four Hundred Souls” by Ibram X. Kendi and Keisha N. Blain. This book is a historical perspective of the journey of the African American presented by 90 writers in essays, short stories and polemics.

I’m interested in these books because of the different perspectives provided on African and African American life before and after the U.S. slave trade of 1619. I’m looking to expand my knowledge beyond what I learned during my public education which is very limited in providing information about African American culture and challenges.

Last, but not least, is there an African American/Black person who made History that you admire? Why?

Tiffany, there are so many well-known African Americans who we often admire for their accomplishments, but the ones I admire the most, are closest to me. I look up to my husband, Coleman March Jr., for his optimism and determination in continuing his education and providing for our family. His care extends to others through his ministry as he performs his pastoral duties. I admire him for his love for God. I also admire my parents and my in-laws who have made a great impact on my life with my husband and family. I’ve been blessed to witness how they have overcome financial and racial obstacles and made successful marriages. We lost my husband’s mother in 2020 and my father in 2021. In my eyes, my husband and parents are history makers.

Raquel, the pain and loss of your loved ones can be overwhelming so I appreciate your willingness to discuss your family. It sounds like the key to your success is your family network. I enjoyed learning more about you and your career in Public Affairs.