21st Space Wing
PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. — On Friday, Jan. 12, the Peterson Air Force Base Chapel echoed with words from one of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s famous quotes: “In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”
These were recited by attendees of the MLK Commemoration Service (presented by the 21st Space Wing), and by the ceremony speaker, Maj. Paul Prosper, United States Air Force Academy department of management, assistant professor, who brought this quote to light several times throughout his presentation.
Prosper, and Idris Goodwin, award-winning writer, director and Colorado College professor who recited an abridged version of MLK’s “I Have a Dream” speech at the service, were introduced by Col. Eric Dorminey, 21st Space Wing vice commander.
Being silent in the face of hate, or being “color blind,” is what enables racism and is still prevalent today, said Prosper.
“To be silent means you’re lacking integrity when you know people are getting hurt — that’s wrong,” Prosper said as he paced in front of the church pews. “We can’t be silent, we can’t be color blind.”
Not talking about issues of racism in our country, or pretending that race doesn’t exist, is being ignorant, Prosper added.
After serving in the trenches of World War I and World War II, black veterans were greeted with angry mobs, riots and acts of hate instead of being thanked for their service.
This was common, Prosper said, and no arrests were made to those who committed a crime.
Prosper cited King’s quote multiple times because “Right now, I noticed this quote is timeless,” he said.
Being ignorant about problems in our country is bad, Prosper said, but not talking about it is worse; we can improve by speaking up and talking to each other.
“Allies don’t just have to be people who are being oppressed,” he said. “We’ve got young coworkers and Airmen … talk to them about these issues. This is not taboo. Let them know you’ll talk to them, even if you can’t relate.”