MARINE CORPS LOGISTICS BASE ALBANY, Ga. --
Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany celebrated Black History Month at the Crossroads Restaurant here Feb. 11. The sold-out event was sponsored by the base and Albany Chapter of Blacks in Government.
Dr. Eugene G. Sherman, Jr., pastor, Institutional First Baptist Church, Albany, Ga., was the guest speaker.
Ira Thompson, deputy command inspector general, Marine Corps Logistics Command, presided over the festivities, while several others participated by welcoming the attendees, giving the invocation and singing.
During the occasion, Col. Drexel Heard, chief of staff, LOGCOM, said, “Let us use this time to inform, educate and acknowledge all the contributions of African-Americans to this great nation. Empowering the black underserved community is good for America, not just for the black community. It will continue to take the collective energies of a nation of people to positively impact change. The status quo just won’t do.”
Sherman, who holds numerous advanced degrees and multiple leadership positions in the community, titled his speech, “The American Black Dilemma.”
“I used a thesis for my topic from a book by the Swedish economist, Gunnar Myrdal, entitled, “An American Dilemma: The Negro Problem and Modern Democracy,” which focused on white people and their reaction to blacks. There were two points made in his book. One was if they accepted the democratic creed, they would embrace integration, and if they rejected it, they would embrace segregation,” he explained.
Sherman further stated that the author felt that most of the people were between the two polarities and he called that the dilemma.
He added that there were unforeseen consequences of slavery such as the response to religion, interracial relationships, desocialization, legality and the importance of the black church after slavery and the pathway ahead.
“I want us to get away from racial stereotyping and finally realize there is a commonality among blacks and whites as we strive in this society that is becoming increasingly under scrutiny in the global economy. I feel that as a race, we have come a long way, but not to the point where we can become content and feel that we have ‘arrived.’ My philosophy is called ‘color and its disability,’ which means even though many feel we have finally arrived, the larger society still views us as being recently emancipated,” he said.
“It is not meant for them (society) to embrace us, but for us to be better prepared, more vigilant, to work together, mobilize resources and penetrate the mainstream of the American economy. We (blacks) cannot just sit back and wait for society to benevolently pick us up and carry us, but we must make a way ourselves,” he said
Brig. Gen. James A. Kessler, commanding general, LOGCOM, said he was honored to be at the luncheon to not only hear what the speaker had to say, but to help celebrate what African-Americans have done for history and that he looks forward to their continued contribution in the future.
One of the community leaders present was Dr. Brenda Hodges-Tiller, owner of HTC, Inc. consulting.
“I’m always excited when I have the opportunity to come to an affair where you are celebrating diversity,” she said. “What I look forward to is a day when we do not have to pick out a certain day to do what we ought to be doing every day, which is loving each other, respecting each other and caring about what each other thinks. That is the way, and as soon as we join our forces together, I think we will see what America can really be all about.”
A presidential proclamation by President Barack Obama dated, Feb. 1 reads, “In the centuries since African-Americans first arrived on our shores, they have known the bitterness of slavery and oppression, the hope of progress, and the triumph of the american dream.
“African-American history is an essential thread of the American narrative that traces our nation’s enduring struggle to perfect itself. Each February, we recognize African-American History Month as a moment to reflect upon how far we have come as a nation, and what challenges remain.”
It further states, “This year’s theme, “The History of Black Economic Empowerment,” calls upon us to honor the African-Americans who overcame injustice and inequality to achieve financial independence and the security of self empowerment that comes with it.”
Thompson said, “I loved the music, speaker and the unity of this event. It is extremely important that we recognize that there are things we still need to improve on and changes we still need to make. This is just a moment to pause and reflect on the fact that there is still much to do on this journey.”
Lt. Col. Donald Gray, deputy director, Maintenance Management Center, LOGCOM, said he enjoyed the focus and comments from all of the speakers, especially the remarks by Kayla Marks, an 11th grade student from Monroe Comprehensive High School.
“It (the remarks) is a true inspiration for all and forces us to realize that it is not just about black history, but United States History,” Gray said.