FORT JACKSON, S.C. -- Martin Luther King Jr. said, "If we are to go forward, we must go back and rediscover those precious values. ..."

That is exactly what the 171st and 193rd Infantry Brigades plan to do during the Martin Luther King Jr. Observance Luncheon - commemorate and reflect on the morals King personified and his invaluable contributions to social justice.

"Dr. Martin Luther King espouses what equality and mankind should be. That is why we celebrate and honor him," said Master Sgt. Chanley Pickard, the 193rd Inf. Bde. equal opportunity adviser. "This day is not just about the African American community. Dr. King wanted equality for all mankind," he said.

King was a prominent leader during the African American civil rights movement during the 1950s and '60s.

King, who was assassinated in 1968, was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964 for his iconic efforts to end racial segregation and discrimination in America.

The tribute to King's legacy is scheduled from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., on Jan. 14 at the Solomon Center.

Highlights include guest speaker Todd Shaw, an associate professor of African American Studies at the University of South Carolina, and music from the 282nd Army Band. King's famous "I Have a Dream" speech, in which he detailed his vision of racial equality in America at the 1963 Civil Rights March on the nation's capital, will also be played during the luncheon.

Shaw, who was chosen as this year's guest speaker because of his role as educator and grassroots activist, said that the ability of King's message to transcend time is the reason that we should continue to honor him.

"Dr. King's message of social justice is timeless," he said. "He was a brilliant and eloquent man who had the ability to say very powerful words in a simplistic way ... he set the example of what a leader should personify."

He added that King helped lay the foundation for social equality, but that individuals must continue the struggle to end racial discrimination.

"He laid out the premises in 1963 that we should strive to no longer perceive each other in terms of race. It is a standard we must continue to strive for," he said.

Pickard said that he believes that the Army and its leadership's support of diversity are helping to fulfill King's dream.

"I feel the military is society's social looking glass," he said. "The Army allows us to serve together without bias and prejudice. If not for the military, a lot of companies would not have moved away from the old ways of no minorities in positions of leadership."

Shaw also said that he feels the Army played an instrumental role in bringing society closer to achieving King's vision of a world free of racial discrimination.

"The Army has been a component of our society that demonstrates that diversity and excellence can go hand-in-hand, and that it is possible for different races to work together to achieve a common goal," he said.

Tickets for the luncheon can be purchased from the installation equal opportunity office or from a brigade EO adviser.

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16