USS HARRY S. TRUMAN, At Sea (NNS) -- USS Harry S. Truman's (CVN 75) heritage committee hosted a celebration to honor the revolutionary civil rights leader, Martin Luther King Jr., Jan. 17.
Sailors and Marines gathered on the aft mess decks to take part in a cake-cutting ceremony and ice cream social to honor King, who conducted peaceful protests in the racially divided American south in the 1950s and '60s and was assassinated in 1968 while still on the trail of freedom and equality for all races.
The ceremony also included the profound words of King and others endeavoring to foster peace and equal rights in the 20th century.
"We read a few poems and excerpts from speeches King has done," said Aircrew Survival Equipmentman 3rd Class (AW) Charles Taylor, a heritage committee representative. "There was also a little history and background about Martin Luther King."
In the true spirit of King's efforts throughout his marches and rallies, shipmates also heard from several other prominent voices in the African-American community through heritage committee members.
"We had all the members of the committee do excerpts from different works from different African-American leaders," said Aviation Maintenance Administrationman 2nd Class (AW) Candis Ralph of Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron (VAW) 126, heritage committee representative for Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 3.
It was an opportunity for Sailors and Marines to hear more than the groundbreaking "I have a dream" oration they have seen and heard on television many times.
"These were people that aren't in the limelight," said Ralph of the excerpts, which included the likes of W.E.B. DuBois and Booker T. Washington, "not only Dr. King but other people that had an impact on black history."
The fellowship gave the crew a chance to experience the heartfelt and educated points of view that helped the civil rights movement become a success in turbulent 20th-century America.
In February, the heritage committee will host events and observances commemorating African-American History Month. Ralph said that while plans are not set in stone yet, she hopes to incorporate a cultural fashion show, as well as movies highlighting notable black actors on a regular basis.
No matter what a Sailor or Marine's background, anyone can help plan the upcoming events by joining the heritage committee.
"You can possibly make a difference by informing your shipmates about different cultures and ethnic backgrounds that make up America," said Taylor. "That's really what we're all about."
For related news, visit the USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75) Navy NewsStand page at www.news.navy.mil/local/cvn75.