By Yvonne Johnson, APG NewsMarch 8, 2012
ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. - Several guests who didn't know Nevil Shed before the Team APG Black History Month Observance at the recreation center Feb. 29 said they will never forget him after his riveting speech.
The guest speaker for the annual event highlighting the achievements of Blacks in America, Shed was a member of the first all-Black college basketball starting lineup that took on the fabled University of Kentucky and won the NCAA championship in 1966.
His professional career was cut short due to a serious knee injury and today when he is not appearing as a motivational speaker, Shed coaches at a Spurs camp in San Antonio, Texas.
Shed was welcomed by Col. Cynthia Polanski, CECOM Logistics and Readiness Center, who said the program's theme, "Black Women in American History and Culture," urges all Americans to study the hardships endured by [black] women.
"These great pioneers played a critical role in the development of our nation," she said.
Shed said when was challenged to speak on a theme celebrating black women, he could not leave out his mother and grandmother.
"They were the two most powerful women in my life," he said.
He touched on when blacks first came to America as slaves and how the woman had to be the strength of the family.
"She had to have the courage to say, 'It's gonna be alright,'" he said.
Shed downplayed his role in the historic achievement that resulted in Disney's blockbuster film "Glory Road," in which actor Al Shearer played Shed, saying it was only part of the fulfillment
of a dream and a promise he made to his mother. He also praised his father for the belittling he sometimes had to take from white customers in order to keep his job so he could feed his family.
"My parents always told me take negative energy and turn it into something positive," Shed said. "It's the same type of high energy we have to have in the Army. I thank God everyday for the women of yesterday."
Shed extended his personal thanks to the Army for the change in his son, who enlisted just over two years ago.
"I have to say that today my son is Army Strong and, for that, I thank you," he said.
He told listeners that, "for us to survive yesterday, today and tomorrow, we've got to be a 'we' team, not a 'me' team and reminded them of his personal philosophy.
"I never say goodbye, I say 'to be continued," he said. "We've come a long way, but we're not finished yet."
Maj. Gen. Robert Ferrell, the CECOM and APG senior mission commander, thanked Shed for his "powerful words" on behalf of the APG community. Quoting Martin Luther King, Ferrell said
"the ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy."
"His strength started with his mom and that allowed him to achieve his dream," Ferrell said. "May all of us recommit ourselves to one another so we can benefit from one another."
Guests gave positive feedback on the program.
"I really enjoyed it," said Gloria Radkiewicz, an IT specialist with the Network Enterprise Center. "What he spoke about is relevant to everyone. It was very inspiring to me, personally and I loved the dancing too."
"It was awesome and the very up-todate speaker was very dynamic," said Billy Sgt. Falla, installation training NCO with the garrison's Headquarters and Headquarters Company. "I appreciated his perspective. It isn't over but to be continued as we move forward."
Lillie Volckmann, a retired civilian and president of the Aberdeen Golden Age Club, said the program "brought back memories.
"I remembered similar stories from my childhood," she said. "I liked the mix of the audience and I felt that what he talked about applied to everybody."
The mistress of ceremonies for the program was Lt. Col. Cheryl Bryant and Capt. Heidi Hamrick of CECOM. Judith Jones of ATEC sang the national anthem.
Chaplain (Lt. Col.) Steve Jerles, CECOM, offered the invocation and Chaplain (Lt. Col.) Abdul Muhammad, U.S. Army Public Health Command, presented the benediction. Entertainment included a Praise Dance featuring Denise Coleman and the Glory Dancers from Rooted Fellowship Church in Edgewood and the Aberdeen High School dance team.
A food tasting immediately after the program featured fried chicken, collard greens, black-eyed peas, cornbread and other ethnic foods.