SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill. - The Surface Warriors of the Military Surface Deployment and Distribution Command packed the house in celebration of Black History Month during a ceremony at the headquarters Feb. 25 in the Seay Auditorium.
The theme of the ceremony was "Honoring the Past, Securing the Future!" and it was on full display with a powerful presentation by Pastor Willie D. Brown, the senior pastor/servant leader of the Faith United Baptist Church of O'Fallon, Illinois.
Maj. Gen. Stephen E. Farmen, commanding general of SDDC, spoke to the crowd about the importance of diversity. While SDDC is above the U.S. Army average percentages of employment diversity, Farmen stressed the importance of building upon those numbers moving into the future.
"Our Army embraces diversity as a way to maximize individual talent, increase morale and enhance military effectiveness - regardless of race, creed or color," he said.
"Diversity is not about what makes us different, it's about how we can each make a difference," he added.
After Farmen's remarks, Brown took to the podium, which became his pulpit for the next 30 minutes.
Speaking about the origins of Black History Month, Brown focused on African American historian Dr. Carter G. Woodson.
"He tried to create a creativity and to stimulate further interest through having a black history week," said Brown. "Ultimately, Woodson believed Negro History Week, which became Black History Month in 1976, would be a vehicle for racial transformation forever."
"I hope that when I am finished today, I will leave you feeling challenged, connected and leaving this place with refueled fire, vigor and vitality to aim for victory that can only come from a combination of memory and unity connected from our diversity," he added.
Brown spoke about where African Americans have been, where they are now and how they are moving into the future.
"I believe if there is one thing that the African American community can agree on, it is that we have come a mighty long way from where we started to where we stand…but we're also a ways from where we look to settle - on a soil with liberty, equality and justice for all," he said.
"Our goal is to get to our there; that is the aim of our anthem. Moving toward unity, realizing we need each other, with love, appreciation, inclusion and equality…then we can rejoice loud as the roaring sea; no longer singing, we shall overcome…but we have overcome…and let true freedom ring for all," he added.
With displays of Tuskegee Airmen behind him and a crowd on the edge of their seats in front of him, Brown ended his presentation in song; "our goal is still 'till' and let's never forget, our victory only comes through our unity."