ALBANY, GA (WALB) - A southwest Georgia military base held its annual Black History Program Wednesday.
Military personnel, students, and other civilians gathered as one on Wednesday at the Marine Corps Logistics Base in Albany, to reflect on African-American history, and the future.
"Just this small time to talk about and relive some of the history, and just to acknowledge those that were there before us. Also to continually help our students look to the future, because in order to get better, you have to know where you came from," said Ira Thompson, President of the Albany Area Chapter, Blacks in Government,
One person in attendance who lived history firsthand is Retired Air Force Master Sargent Henry L. Jackson. Jackson received the Congressional Gold Medal for attending basic training during World War II as a Private at Montford Point, N.C., the first training facility ever established by the Marine Corps, solely to train African-American recruits.
"Prior to 1942 there were no blacks in the Marine Corps. It was mandated by President Franklin Roosevelt that they open the ranks for the blacks. Between 1942 and 1949 he wanted to see 20,000 blacks in the Marine Corps. I was one of those Marines," said MSgt Henry L. Jackson.
Attendees also learned about African-American History through song, dance, and a poem written my Paul Laurence Dunbar.
"I wanted to reflect on our ancestors who had gone before us, who had made such a great contribution to our nation, to our black heritage and Paul Laurence Dunbar was one of my heroes," said Public Affairs Specialist Verda Parker
Keynote Speaker, Albany Police Chief Michael Persley, was proud of the turnout and hopes the crowd is inspired for our future.
"Remembering that even though we have had some struggles in the past, we can still be successful in our present and in our future. As long as we accept change, we accept diversity. It makes us stronger. Not just as a person, but as a country," said Albany police chief Michael Persley.
Organizers of the Marine Corps Logistic Base African-American History are already looking forward to next year's program.