ROCK ISLAND ARSENAL, Ill. -- Residents and employees of Rock Island Arsenal, Ill., celebrated the life and legacy of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. at a ceremony in Heritage Hall here, Jan. 23.
Rev. Joseph D. Williamson III, pastor of the Second Baptist Church in Rock Island, Ill., spoke at the event.
"He [Dr. King] was not a utopian dreamer," said Williamson. "He believed equality was a realistic, achievable goal through nonviolence."
Williamson, a native of East St. Louis, Ill., earned his jurist doctorate from Texas Southern University and has spent the last 20 years serving as pastor of Second Baptist Church where service to community is part of his mission statement: "To Seek, To Save and To Serve."
"Dr. King was saying humans are dependent upon each other," Williamson preached. "Brothers and Sisters, these were the tenets of Dr. King's rallies and meetings … he believed the violation of rights to one potentially violated the rights of all."
Before the pastor spoke, the audience watched a five-minute video presentation chronicling King's triumphs and struggles; from the Montgomery Movement where he organized a year-long protest campaign against the public transit system of Montgomery, Ala., to the day a sniper shot him on the balcony of his second floor motel room in Memphis, Tenn.
"The presentation was inspiring," said Chief Warrant Officer 5 Ronald Moore, a supply division officer for the Army Sustainment Command. "He (King) paved the way for us.
"For my kids to be looked at for who they are and not the color of their skin," Moore continued, "I am very grateful."
Fifteen years after a congressman first introduced legislation for a Martin Luther King Jr. federal holiday, President Ronald Reagan signed it into law on Nov. 3, 1983. It went into effect three years later, and the holiday is now celebrated every third Monday in January.