MARINE CORPS LOGISTICS BASE ALBANY, Ga. -- Does racism still exist? Does what W. E. B. Dubois' book "The Souls of Black Folks," written in 1903, remain relevant today?
These were two primary topics discussed at the Black History Month Luncheon held Feb. 20 at the Marine Corps Community Services' Crossroads Restaurant here.
In Dubois' book he addressed racism and noted how far African Americans have progressed.
A panel of seven speakers expressed their thoughts on the two topics and guests asked questions and participated in discussion.
"We have certainly made progress from that time," Bill Robinson, systems analyst for G-6, said. "Issues still exist. However, they are getting better."
Today African American men and women have the right to vote, pursue elected office, defend their country in the military, and have equal job opportunities.
Many guests agreed that racism does still exist, but not to the extent that it did. They also discussed what they could do to make it better.
"Issues of color do still exist," Col. Arthur Sass, panel member and chief of staff, Marine Corps Materiel Command, said. "Social change through interaction is what we need to focus on."
Capt. Derick Williams, MatCom, aide de campe, the proud father of a
6-month-old baby girl named Deborah, and his wife Harriet feel that if they raise Deborah to be acceptant of other cultures, she will not face as many problems.
"We want her to accept other cultures and to be exposed to all cultures. We don't want her to expect to have things handed to her because of her race," said Williams. "We want her to seek out and make her own opportunities."
In Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s speech, given on the steps of Lincoln Memorial in Washington in 1963, he said, "I say to you today, my friends, that in spite of the difficulties and frustrations of the moment, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.
"I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: 'We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.' "I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at a table of brotherhood.
I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a desert state, sweltering with the heat of injustice and oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.
"I have a dream that my four children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character."
The base's Black History Month activities will continue throughout the month.