By T. Anthony BellJanuary 23, 2013
FORT LEE, Va. (Jan. 23, 2013) -- Singing, recitals, reenactments and speeches marked the 23rd Annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Observance Jan. 16 at the Memorial Chapel.
The event, presented by the Installation Equal Opportunity Office and hosted by HHC, CASCOM, drew roughly 200 people. Those in attendance included Maj. Gen. Larry D. Wyche, CASCOM and Fort Lee commanding general, and his wife Denise.
Pastor Horace L. Jones was the guest speaker for the event. The Cornerstone Ministries clergyman and civil rights leader, who said he met King in Atlanta and participated in such historic events as the March to Selma (Ala.), expressed sentiments that much of what was achieved during the modern civil rights era was the result of a deep commitment of thousands who wanted to see change take place. King's actions in the face of danger epitomized that commitment.
"He knew he was going toward the shadow of death, but he feared no evil," said Jones, a past president of the Sussex County Southern Christian Leadership Conference, a civil rights organization. "He knew jail was possible; as a matter of fact, they called him a jailbird. He looked at that as a side issue. The only thing that mattered was to be in position to help all people become equal and have the same God-given rights -- regardless of their color, regardless of their gender."
King, an advocate of nonviolent social change, was a tireless civil rights leader who helped push legislation that guaranteed equal rights for all people. As a result of his work, he was arrested numerous times and received hundreds of death threats. King was assassinated in 1968 while standing on the balcony of a Memphis motel. Jones said much progress has been made toward King's vision of racial equality and justice, but more work is on the horizon.
"We are not there yet," he said, answering a question he posed during his speech. "We are still on a journey, still following a dream. We haven't reached the promise land yet."
Jones added that King's vision of America can only be fully realized through the efforts of those who are deeply committed to the cause.
"I'm glad to say that the dream is still alive," he shouted. "The only problem that we have is finding folks who will join the movement and not just settle for being a part of a membership."
Aside from Jones' speech, the program focused on the highlights of King's life and accomplishments. Members of the CASCOM team kicked off the program reciting portions of King's "I Have A Dream" speech made before 200,000 people on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial and one in which he famously alluded to his death.
Other highlights of the program included the Havah Woman of Faith, a group of Bull Dental Clinic employees who reenacted a march, a form of protest King used sparingly; Peterburg's Third Baptist Church Choir, which performed several gospel selections, including "Take My Hand, Precious Lord," a King favorite; and a student of Virginia State University, who passionately spoke about King's accomplishments as a member of his Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity.
After the program, Wyche presented gifts of appreciation to the performers.