Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. influenced change through non-violent means during the civil rights movement. Two of his most famous contributions to the civil rights movement were the organization of the Montgomery Boycott in 1955 and his “I Have a Dream” speech at the Lincoln monument in Washington, D.C., during the March on Washington in 1963.
King’s influence continues today as Soldiers of the 21st Theater Sustainment Command and U.S. Army Garrison Kaiserslautern, Airmen of the 86th Airlift Wing, Kaiserslautern Middle School students, Department of Defense employees, military family members and German local nationals gathered to celebrate King’s life, commitment and legacy Jan. 20 at the Galaxy Theater on Vogelweh. This year’s theme, “Remember, Act and Celebrate,” was focused on celebrating the tremendous positive change brought about by the civil rights leader.
Sgt. Maj. James Stewart, the guest speaker and the 21st TSC religious support team sergeant major, honored King with a speech. During his remarks, he quoted Professor Melvin Sylvester, a professor and black history author who taught at Long Island University.
“In a span of 13 years, from 1955 till his death in 1968, he was able to expound, expose and extricate America from many wrongs,” quoted Stewart. “His tactics of protest involved non-violent passive resistance to racial injustice. It was the right prescription for our country, and it was right on time.”
“I was not born before or during the civil rights movement, but I am reaping the benefits of all the hard work that my forefathers did to be in the position I am in today,” said Staff Sgt. Melvin Lucas, a network operations supervisor for 86th Communications Squadron. “Being a free Airman or being a free Soldier or just being in the military and being able to experience the things that I have been able to experience, gives us another element to the Civil Rights movement and makes it more evident of our equality across the board.”
USAG-K and 21st TSC leaders contributed support to this event by cutting the celebratory cake and organizing a commemorative march symbolic of the March on Washington.
“We had a lot of children and younger Soldiers here today,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Gene Canada, the USAG-K command sergeant major. “This event gives them a foundation of history and lets them know that they can achieve anything regardless of their creed or national origin. This event gives Soldiers a form of unity and reminds them that we are all one family.”