MARINE CORPS LOGISTICS BASE ALBANY, Ga. -- "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.'"
The late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., an Atlanta native, spoke these immortal words almost 40 years ago on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial during the famous March on Washington in front of more than 200,000 protesters. Although King's life was snuffed out prematurely, his spirit still burns bright - especially in Albany, Ga.
MCLB Albany and the Albany Chapter of Blacks In Government paid tribute to King's memory at the Base Chapel Wednesday.
"Dr. King gave his life so all people would have an opportunity to advance, for housing, jobs and freedom of speech - so that hopefully we can all have a better life," said Bill Robinson, a systems analyst at G-6 and the event organizer.
Although the majority of King's marches were in protest of the segregation of African-Americans and Caucasians, the spirit of his words include all people, regardless of race, said Robinson.
According to Jacqueline Clark, management assistant/forms designer with the Base Adjutant's Office, the event paid tribute and continued the dream that all people will be treated equally and fairly.
Music set the tribute's tone for the day when a choir of base personnel performed songs that were reminiscent of King's era.
"It (the music) tells a story of Dr. King and how we all came together," said Clark. "Deep in my heart, I do believe we shall overcome."
The Honorable Judge Willie E. Lockette, a superior court judge in Albany, was the guest speaker at the event.
Lockette was invited to speak because has experienced success in his life and because he is known for his efforts to be all-inclusive in allowing people to succeed in all areas of their lives, said Robinson. These areas encompass education, jobs, housing and any other endeavor individuals pursue.
King understood the plight of African-Americans, said Lockette, whose mother was one of the 200,000 protesters who marched with King to the Lincoln Memorial.
He used non-violent protest for affecting change. His courage and uncommon humility led added to his ability to walk like a king without leaving the common man. But most of all, King had a divine vision of the future of race relations in America.
President George W. Bush has called for all Americans to become all-inclusive. To achieve this, diversity is a necessary component in all political offices and in management and supervisory positions.
According to Robinson, the nation's young people are especially challenged today because public schools are more like prisons than academic institutions now that metal detectors and security guards have become commonplace.
Nevertheless, keeping America's children safe while ensuring their education must remain top priorities.
"Education is the key to everything," said Clark. "We need to be aware and open-minded to everyone's beliefs and to respect them."
Clark feels that King would be happy to see the changes that have taken place, and added that Americans have a deeper respect for each other today, although people must remain vigilant to these ideas.
"We all bleed and have feelings," said Clark, who pointed out that with the climate of potential conflicts, people must be ever mindful of one another.
"We need to look at one another, learn to empathize with one another, and help one another," said Robinson. "We need to get back to that same spirit of togetherness that we had after 9-11, which was too short-lived."