Columbus AFB, local community honors MLK

  • Published
  • By Airman Hannah Bean
  • 14th Flying Training Wing Public Affairs
Members of the local community and Columbus Air Force Base attended a Martin Luther King Jr. Commemoration Breakfast at the Trotter Convention Center in Columbus, Mississippi, Jan. 21.

To kick off the commemoration breakfast the Columbus AFB Honor Guard presented the colors as Capt. Alisha Foster, 14th Flying Training Wing Equal Opportunity director, sang the national anthem.

During the breakfast, the focus was a national day of service. Dr. Rita Felton, retired command chief master sergeant of the 14th Flying Training Wing and keynote speaker, highlighted the importance of giving back during MLK Day.

“Martin Luther King Jr. Day is a day of service, a day on, not a day off,” Felton said. “It is intended to empower individuals, strengthen communities, bridge barriers and create solutions to social problems. More importantly, it’s to move us closer to Dr. King’s vision of a great community.”

Felton spoke about the legacy and influence Martin Luther King Jr. left behind years later after his devotion in the civil rights movement.

“Today is a day of inspiration as we remember the young, dynamic, educated civil rights leader who put aside a promising career as a middle class pastor to instead pursue a movement of civil rights,” Felton said. “Dr. King had no reason to expect that his leadership would bring nothing but trouble and discomfort to him and his family and to those that were closest to him. … No expectation that years later our nation would set aside a day for his birthday, a day of service, ‘a day on, not a day off’.”

Felton went on to emphasize on leadership and being a good leader all around, even in times of crisis.

“A good leader is not made in crisis, good leaders are revealed,” Felton said. “If you squeeze an orange, you get orange juice. If you squeeze a lemon, you get lemon juice. If you squeeze a person in times of crisis, you’re going to see what they’re made of.”

Felton noted that leaders don’t always know the answers but should show the pathway they must use to move forward.

“Leaders can afford to be uncertain, but they can’t be unclear because people don’t want fuzzy leadership,” she said.

She said leaders won’t always have the answers, however, they need to have confidence and clarity of vision.

After her speech, Felton gave various opportunities available to the community to participate in honor of MLK as a way to give back to the community. One of them being a project led by United Way called “Tools for Schools.”

The project consisted of collecting donations from the local community to support over 700 teachers in the Columbus and Lowndes County area. The teachers registered for the event to drive down to the Columbus Soccer Field Complex and pick up the supplies donated.

“Dr. King did a lot to help African Americans during the civil rights movement and it’s as a tribute to him that we try to do something to improve the community and help others in the community as well,” said Capt. Alisha Foster, 14th Flying Training Wing Equal Opportunity director. “It’s really important to nail the theme of ‘It’s a day on, not a day off’.”

Dr. King’s life and legacy showcases so many examples of connection and leadership. He is one of many examples that anyone, Airmen included, can utilize to professionally develop great leadership skills.