Fort Campbell’s Equal Opportunity Office will host a special observance of the 2019 Martin Luther King Jr. Day 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m. Tuesday at Cole Park Commons, 1610 101st Airborne Division Road.
The observance, themed “Remember! Celebrate! Act! A Day On, Not a Day Off,” features Gregory P. Stallworth, Fort Campbell’s director of Equal Employment Opportunity, as guest speaker.
“There is a necessity for us to care about each other,” Stallworth said. “What we should do in our individual quests to be the best that we can be, is to study history. History has a tendency to repeat itself. Once you obtain and retain that knowledge about … who we are as a nation, you can use that knowledge. Look actively about what you can do … to help somebody who may be less fortunate than you are.”
In addition to directing Fort Campbell’s EEO office, Stallworth is a pastor at Montgomery Elizabeth Baptist Church in Cadiz, Kentucky; an author of a book and several columns printed by The Leaf-Chronicle; and has been a member of several community boards including American Red Cross of Nashville.
The event is open to everybody and attendees can enjoy free food and drink samplings, as well as poetry and spoken word performances presented by members of the Fort Campbell community.
“The food will be some of Dr. King’s favorites,” said Sgt. 1st Class Arthur Phillips, Equal Opportunity adviser for the 101st Airborne Division. “The poetry will be performed not just by minority Soldiers, but a multicultural group.”
Martin Luther King Jr. Day marks the birthday of the lauded minister and leader of the American Civil Rights Movement.
King’s birthday is Jan. 15, which is observed with a U.S. federal holiday and a day of action on the third Monday of January every year. This year’s observance is Jan. 21.
The federal holiday was signed into law by President Ronald Reagan in 1983, and was first observed in 1986.
King rose to prominence because of his role in leading the Montgomery, Alabama, bus boycott beginning in 1955. The 385-daylong boycott, during which King’s house was bombed, ended when the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed a lower court decision to end racial segregation on all Montgomery public buses.
After the Montgomery bus boycott, King organized and led numerous nonviolent protests against the system of Southern segregation, believing extensive media coverage of the injustices faced by Southern blacks would produce public opinion that would force lawmakers to dismantle Jim Crow laws.
In 1963, King was one of the leaders who organized the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, during which he delivered the now famous “I Have a Dream” speech.
King lobbied President John F. Kennedy to push for legislation to integrate the country. With Kennedy’s death, President Lyndon B. Johnson was able to pass the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which outlawed discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex or national origin. This act paved the way for the Voting Rights Act of 1965, the Civil Rights Act of 1968, the Equal Employment Opportunity Act of 1972 and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990.
After the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, King continued to work against racial discrimination, spoke out against the United States’ involvement in Vietnam and organized a campaign to address issues of economic inequality.
King was assassinated April 4, 1968, in Memphis.