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Celebrating Black History: Enjoying legacies by achieving new milestones

By Joycelyn Biggs | Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany | February 19, 2016

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Children’s voices rang out in the Chapel of the Good Shepherd, singing the title track “Glory” from the movie “Selma.” The Albany Middle School’s chorus sang to a capacity crowd during the annual Black History Program held aboard Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany,  Feb. 10.

Col. James C. Carroll III, commanding officer, MCLB Albany, shared with the audience the reason for the program. He said it is to celebrate ancestors who gave so much to ensure greater opportunities for people today.

Carroll pointed out, the common thread of each celebrated African-American in history is their service.  He challenged people to evaluate their own legacy. He suggested evaluating milestones not yet achieved relating to service to others and how each person can contribute to bringing them to fruition.

The keynote speaker, Michael Persley, chief, Albany Police Department, Albany, Georgia, has served more than two decades with both the police department and the Georgia Army National Guard.

Although he has dedicated his life to serving people, Persley admitted to being shy when it comes to speaking to large crowds. He explained he uses an ice breaker to overcome the issue.

“You have the right to remain silent,” the police chief said. Laughter erupted from the audience as Persley flashed a slight grin.

“Ok, I feel better,” he said.

Persley continued his speech by taking the audience back as far as the Mayflower and progressing through time, pointing out the struggles of African-Americans. He said there has been tremendous impact made by the sacrifices of ancestors who chose to serve.

Persley chronicled events such as the end of slavery; the walk across the Edmund Pettus Bridge, Selma, Alabama; the Freedom Riders arriving in Montgomery Alabama and the Little Rock Nine, Little Rock, Arkansas, being escorted into Little Rock High School as pivotal moments in time.

“What was being said,” he questioned about those events? Persley provided an answer for the audience.

“We were defining ourselves as a country accepting of all colors, races and a nexus for freedom.”

In closing, Persely urged each person to take full advantage of the opportunities available to them from those sacrifices. He also challenged everyone to contribute to the creation of new opportunities for future generations.

Also during the event, Verda L. Parker, public affairs specialist, MCLB Albany,  recited “The Party” by Paul Laurence Dunbar which allowed attendees to view a party through the eyes of a party goer in the early 1900’s. Jasmine Cox recited a poem highlighting current events and struggles of today. Her presentation brought the crowd to their feet, giving Cox a standing ovation.


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