WASHINGTON (NNS) -- The OPNAV Heritage Committee, in collaboration with Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall, hosted a celebration commemorating the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., at the Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall Community Center Jan. 11.
Celebrating the national Martin Luther King, Jr. Day theme, "Remember! Celebrate! Act! A Day On, Not A Day Off!" the event included southern-style food sampling and remarks by guest speaker Joe Madison, a Washington D.C. activist and radio talk show host.
"Everybody can do something," said Madison. "That is what the King celebration is. It's not even a celebration; it's a call to action. It should be a reminder that we all can do something. We have to be more than bystanders."
Madison shared historical leadership highlights of the civil rights movement, including the significance of Dr. King's efforts during a time of national struggle for equality.
"People don't realize how difficult leadership can be," said Madison. "And before Martin Luther King, Jr. could convince white America that it needed to change, he had to first convince his own community. He first had to convince black people, and that was extremely difficult."
Speaking to an audience of more than 200 military service members and civilians, Madison reminded listeners that Dr. King was not always the respected civil rights leader remembered in history books. At one point in time, Dr. King's own fraternity considered revoking his membership, and Morehouse College wanted to revoke his degree. Madison also discussed events making current headlines, and compared the stories to those of Dr. King's era.
"People need to know the history," said Madison. "If you don't remember the history, you are bound to repeat it."
At the conclusion of his speech, Madison challenged those attending the celebration to not only appreciate the struggles of Dr. King, but to make those sacrifices real through actionable efforts.
"Take King beyond the National Mall," said Madison. "You should leave here and think, 'What is the problem, and what am I going to do about it? In and out of uniform, all have to ask the question that all great people ask themselves - what am I going to do about it?'"
Madison's call to action encouraged many Sailors in attendence to start reflecting on their own lives.
"I was definitely motivated by today's event," said Lt. Joe Leavitt, "Hearing Mr. Madison speak about Dr. King really gave me a chance to think about what I do every day and why it matters. I'm motivated to change the world."
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