By Titus Ledbetter III, Belvoir EagleFebruary 28, 2014
Fort Belvoir, Va. (Feb. 27, 2014) - Fort Belvoir acknowledged the significance of two of the most influential civil rights leaders during its African-American History Month Observance, Thursday at the Fort Belvoir Community Center.
The event, sponsored by U.S. Army Garrison Fort Belvoir and the Military Intelligence Readiness Command Equal Employment Offices, drew more than 150 people of various backgrounds and beliefs.
The observance featured an award-winning drama titled "The Meeting" presented by Kelvin Wade Entertainment, which depicted a fictional private meeting between civil rights leaders the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X.
It is important to remember the messages of both civil rights leaders, according to Masud Olufani, an Atlanta native who portrayed Malcolm X.
"It helps us put in perspective our own choices and helps us think about how we choose to live our lives," Olufani said. "Legacy for me is the most important thing."
Sgt. 1st Class Ebonie Washington, equal opportunity advisor for the Military District of Washington, welcomed the attendees to kick off the event. The theme of this year's observance was "Civil Rights in America."
The program continued with the singing of the national anthem and an invocation. Col. Drew Ryan of MIRC, in his opening remarks encouraged people to remember the lessons learned during the civil rights era.
"All of the things worth obtaining are worth the struggle," Ryan said. "That is what our struggle in the Army is all about."
During the play, Malcolm X asked King to meet him privately and the two characters ridiculed each other's leadership methods. Both characters tried to convince the other one to change the tone of their messages. They both gained little traction, until King's character gave Malcolm X a doll for his daughter. At the end of the play, the two characters found common ground and shook hands.
Spc. Xaverie Hildebrandt, MIRC linguist, was impressed by the play. She was born in the Republic of Cameroon, in the west central Africa region. She appreciated the fictional dialogue between the two main characters in the production.
"This was a different approach and a very good approach," Hildebrandt said.
Nora Watts, of Alexandria, Va., also enjoyed the play.
"I thought it was awesome," she said. "I wanted to see how they would do the contrast and I thought that they did an excellent job."
Lt. Col. Brian Zarchin, Army Garrison Fort Belvoir Headquarters Battalion commander, presented the cast members plaques during his closing remarks.
"This was an equal opportunity presentation," he said of the play. "It allowed all of us to understand each other a little bit better."
The observance also featured a variety of West African foods to sample and displays of books, video clips and artifacts on the civil rights movement.
For more information about African-American History Month, visit www.africanamericanhistorymonth.gov.