Feburary 19, 2016 --
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
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.