Guest speaker emphasizes King's call to service
January 27, 2009
"Yes, I can!"
Those three words echoed throughout the MG Robert B. Solomon Center as Theresa K. Gibson spoke to more than 600 attendees gathered to celebrate the life of Martin Luther King Jr. Jan. 15.
For the Fort Jackson schools administrator, the phrase -- adapted from President Obama's campaign slogan -- serves as a rallying cry as Americans continue toward making King's dream a reality.
"Dare we say, 'Yes we can''" she asked the crowd. "Yes, we can continue to say it because 'Yes we can' is also an appeal to personal responsibility. In other words, we must quit waiting around for someone else to bring change."
The theme of this year's luncheon was "Remember! Celebrate! Act! A day on, not a day off!"
The theme, said Gibson, means Americans should think of the observance as more than just another holiday.
"All of us are encouraged to use this day to rededicate ourselves to helping our fellow man," she said. "However, the service does not stop on just this day. Our service to our fellow man is the right way to honor Dr. King on this holiday and throughout the year. It is a call to action for year-round service."
Col. Brian Prosser, 193rd Infantry Brigade commander, said Gibson's background in the civil rights movement made her an ideal candidate to serve as this year's guest speaker. His brigade sponsors the annual luncheon.
"When we first started looking for a guest speaker for this year's observance, we originally started looking off post," he said. "Then someone brought up the name Thelma K. Gibson.
We realized then, that we had a diamond in the rough, for lack of a better word, right here on Fort Jackson."
Prosser was referring to Gibson's participation as a teen in the 1968 March on Washington where King gave his famous "I Have a Dream" speech.
Brig. Gen. Bradley May, post commander, also commended Gibson and acknowledged the importance of celebrating King's life.
"Dr. King paid the ultimate price so that all of us could enjoy freedom, democracy and equality," he said. "Those of us in the military profession can identify with that. I call upon all of us to reintroduce ourselves to the principles on which Dr. King gave his life."
He added that those principles "directly enrich our lives and promote a workplace environment where everyone is treated with dignity, respect and is appreciated for his or her unique contribution. If Dr. King was with us today, I think he would appreciate this celebration."