Story and photo by Kerstin Lopez
Nearly 44 years after the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., communities across the country continue to honor the memory and work of the nationally-known leader.
More than 150 Mountain Post community members joined in a celebration of the life and changes influenced by King during an observance Jan. 12 at the Elkhorn Conference Center.
King is considered the formative figure in the modern fight for civil rights, and his legacy looms large in the work of all those who follow him in his cause, said Sgt. Amber Hargrove, equal opportunity leader, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division.
“Half a century ago, America was moved by a young preacher who called a generation to action and forever changed the course of history. He devoted his life to the struggle for justice and equality, sowing seeds of hope for a day when all people might claim ‘the riches of freedom and the security of justice,’” Hargrove said.
“Today we recognize one of America’s greatest visionary leaders, and we celebrate the life and legacy of Dr. King,” Hargrove said. “Dr. King guided us toward a mountaintop on which all Americans, regardless of skin color, could live together in mutual respect and brotherhood. His bold leadership and prophetic eloquence united people of all backgrounds in a noble quest for freedom and basic civil rights.”
The observance keynote speaker, Adis Vila, chief diversity officer, U.S. Air Force Academy, said King was one of her heroes growing up as a young Cuban immigrant and as a student of diversity and inclusion, he is one of the people she emulated.
“As a people and as a nation, we have come a long way since the civil rights movement of the early 60s — Dr. King would be proud,” Vila said. “At the same time, we are not yet at the point that Dr. King devoted his life to help our society reach.”
Vila said individuals and communities must work together to affirm the commitment to King’s dream of justice and equality for all people.
“I would like to inspire all of us here to continue the work started by the man we are honoring in this celebration,” Vila said.
“It is up to each of us, in our own small ways, to step in where we see the undercurrents of racism, where we see divisiveness and rancor. Set an example and act in a way that would make Dr. Martin Luther King proud. Change can happen and change begins with each of us.”