LOS ANGELES--The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Los Angeles District Black Employment Special Emphasis Program committee held its Black History Month observance kick-off ceremony at the District's headquarters Feb. 4.
"At the crossroads of Freedom and Equality: The Emancipation Proclamation and the March on Washington,” is this year’s theme.
The theme commemorates two events that changed the course of the nation—the 1863 Emancipation Proclamation and the 1963 March on Washington.
President Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation in 1863 opened the door for African Americans to join the Army and to fight to reunite a divided country.
“There were great role models in the Army, African-American role models, who helped shape who I am today,” said Col. Mark Toy, District commander of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Los Angeles District. “When you look at now the success of African-Americans in the Army, it [success] starts at the top within the Corps of Engineers, with Lt. Gen. Bostick an African-American who is leading the Corps,” Toy said.
The March on Washington that occurred on Aug 28, 1963 became famous for the three-hour long program that gathered more than 200,000 Americans, amongst them were civil rights activists, celebrities and religious leaders, who called for racial equality, jobs and freedom. The rally culminated in Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.s famous “I Have a Dream“ speech.
“The March on Washington was not the end of the struggle, but the beginning,” said Lowell Morgan, this year’s BHM keynote speaker. “The beginning of what?” asked Morgan. “To move this country to a point where it was realized and recognized of its true meaning of its creed, that all men were, in fact, created equal.”
Morgan is a native of Okumulgee, Okla. and is currently the Most Worshipful Grand Master of The Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge, Free and Accepted Masons, State of California, Inc.
"The kick-off ceremony for the African-American and Black History Month observance was fulfilling,” said Arnecia Williams, a value engineer and BEP program manager. “Mr. Morgan brought awareness and real-life experiences to his speech on the March on Washington and discussion of the Emancipation Proclamation. It’s great when an event like this brings together employees of all races and cultures to learn about US history.”
The ceremony continued with a dramatic reading by Stephanie Hall, BEP program member, highlighting excerpts from the Association for the Study of African American Life and History.
A “Soul food” luncheon is slated for later this month in observance of BHM.
The closing ceremony will be held on Feb. 28. Assemblymember Isadore Hall, III California State Assembly, 52nd District, will be the keynote speaker.