Fort Campbell’s Equal Employment Opportunity Office held its second annual “A Diversity & Inclusion Awareness Seminar Luncheon” to celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
The luncheon was held Tuesday at the Cole Park Commons Mosul Ballroom to help the post community recognize the importance of integration.
EEO Director Dr. Gregory P. Stallworth told guests to “open up [their] hearts and minds, [because] if you’re not learning, you’re not growing. Leave here today better than [you] came.”
Stallworth encouraged everyone to hold-up their right hand, and told them to remember that their hand is “a practicum, an example of diversity” because of the unique shape and function of each finger.
“We are all people, we are all different, and we all have our different strengths and weaknesses…each one [finger] is important, just like we are in society,” he said.
Fourth and fifth grade boys and girls from the Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary School in Hopkinsville performed “The Star-Spangled Banner,” “Sing about Martin” and “Get on Board Little Children” accompanied with whistles.
“It gave an opportunity for kids to know well beyond their time the importance for education, so they can make [their] dreams a reality,” principal Sarah Newman said.
Keynote speaker, Aaron T. Ford, special agent in charge and chief of FBI Memphis division, praised the elementary school children for their good performance, and reminded them that “[they] are our future.”
During Ford’s speech, he talked about his early goals for surviving and overcoming violence in his community.
“I set some goals for myself when I was a teenager and what I wanted to do as a teenager was [to] be alive and wake up, be awesome, then repeat on a daily basis,” Ford said.
The word awesome for him, was to be “dynamic and impactful.” He referred to King as being an awesome individual. “He [King] transcended that word in many, many ways.”
Ford spoke about the influence and determination King had on individuals as a minister and civil-rights activist and how he was, at times, harshly criticized for his initiated movements. “The tools Dr. King used was always those of non-violence. Dr. King used education, faith, religion and collaboration, and communication as his weapons of choice.”
As a young boy, Ford remembered when King died. He, his mother and siblings attended King’s funeral services held at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta.
“I still remember the extremely long lines of supporters both black and white,” said Ford. “I remember walking over to the casket…I remember thinking to myself that Dr. King looked as though he was sleeping.”
Ford also attended Federick Douglass High School in Atlanta during the same time as King’s son, Dexter Scott King.
“Growing up during that time and coming in contact with one of Dr. Martin Luther King’s kids, that family was viewed as black royalty to us…,” Ford said.
His message was not just for the adults in attendance. He asked the children to pay close attention because, “Sometimes our history gets lost and it’s getting lost with our young people…they’re so many distractions for kids these days that they don’t really keep in touch and in tune with our history,” he said. “It doesn’t matter what color you are history is history.”
Angela Jacobs, Fort Campbell deputy director of MICC, took notes during Ford’s speech.
“No matter how many marches we’ve done, no matter how many court rulings there are, no matter how many things they’ve done in the past to help us, it’s up to us as individuals to make sure we are doing the right things, that we use our influence and know that we have the power to make those changes. So it’s in our hands to carry the dream forward,” Jacobs said.
Ford said that he felt “very lucky to be a part of the dream.”
He said, “You can kill the dreamer, but you can’t kill the dream.”