MARINE CORPS LOGISTICS BASE ALBANY, Ga. --
The Base Chapel aboard Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany was nearly filled to capacity as active-duty and civilian personnel, community leaders and others came together to observe Black History Month, Feb. 25.
The guest speaker was Georgia Appeals Court Judge Ken Hodges, former Albany Dougherty District Attorney.
Base Sergeant Major Sgt.Maj. Jeffrey Young recognized Henry Jackson, an Albany native and original Montford Point Marine.
“We have in attendance today Black History in its finest and I am personally touched by this being an African-American Marine,” he said. As I stand here today, I would be remiss not to acknowledge his contributions because there was once a time that we could not openly serve in the United States Marine Corps.
Young continued, “If it had not been for brave men like Henry Jackson who is considered a trailblazer, he set the conditions for young men like myself to join much later and establish some success. So sir, to you and for the hundreds and hundreds of African-American Marines that openly serve today, thank you for your contribution.”
Kenneth Cutts, chairman, Albany Civil Rights Institute Board of Directors, introduced the speaker as “one of us, a son of the South, a son of Albany, a son of southwest Georgia…”
“Ken served us as the district attorney for 12 years, assembling one of the most diverse offices anywhere in the state of Georgia,” Cutts said. “The thing that I admired during his term is that he encouraged those who worked under him not to use the office as a final destination, but a launching pad for them to become greater than they ever thought they could be.
Cutts continued, “Ken understands diversity. He co-chaired the King dinner here in Albany for many years that celebrated the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. He served on the Albany Civil Rights Institute Board of Directors, Urban League of Greater Atlanta. All of these are characteristics of African-American history.
Hodges focused his message on the national theme, African-Americans and the vote, at times speaking directly to a group of students from Dougherty Comprehensive High School.
“This year marks the one hundred year anniversary of the 19th amendment giving women the right to vote and the 150th anniversary of the 15th amendment that gave black men the right to vote,” he explained.
Hodges noted we live in a democracy in the greatest country in the world, but it hasn’t always been great for all. He gave several examples of states that gave their free blacks the right to vote in the states as Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania and New York and those who were elected to office in the early 1800’s.
“Notable African-Americans elected include the first African-American appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court, Thurgood Marshall, Shirley Chisolm, the first African-American female elected to Congress who later ran for President twice and the 2008 election of the 44th president of the United States, Barack Obama, just to name a few,” he described.
Hodges gave a few statistics regarding local and state elections and encouraged the high school students to register to vote.
“If you don’t think your vote matters, it does. You need to know who your elected officials are at all levels and have your voices heard. Take the time to learn about the history here,” he added.
The observance wrapped up with performances by the Dougherty Comprehensive High School Chorus and Latreesa Perryman, school liaison officer, Marine Corps Community Services.