Fort Riley, Kansas



COMMUNITY CORNER - Leader, civil rights activist was glimmer of hope for freedom for all

By Col. Andrew Cole | GARRISON COMMANDER | March 19, 2014

A pillar of the community. A civil rights activist. A leader. A glimmer of hope for a nation that someday freedom would be granted for all, regardless of race, creed or origin.

Martin Luther King Jr. embodied all of these things, and, for that, King became part of our history and our legacy.

On Jan. 16, President Barack Obama proclaimed Jan. 20, 2014, as Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

“Each year, America sets aside a day to remember a giant of our nation’s history and a pioneer of the Civil Rights Movement,” Obama said during the proclamation. “During his lifelong struggle for justice and equality, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. gave mighty voice to the quiet hopes of millions, offered a redemptive path for oppressed and oppressors alike and led a nation to the mountaintop. Behind the bars of a Birmingham jail cell, he reminded us that ‘injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.’”

King taught us that “an individual has not started living, until he can rise above the narrow confines of his individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity,” he said.

“Today, let us put aside our narrow ambitions, lift up one another and march a little closer to the nation Dr. King envisioned,” Obama said.

King had a dream – the dream of improving equal rights. His non-violent activism and protests against racial discrimination helped our country realize a better future, become a better nation and become a better Army.

Today, in large part because of King and other civil rights activists throughout our history, African-Americans play a vital role in our Army’s success and Fort Riley’s history.

The 9th and 10th Cavalry regiments – better known as “Buffalo Soldiers” – were stationed at Fort Riley at various times in the late 1800s and early 1900s.

On July 26, 1948, President Harry Truman declared there will be equality of treatment and opportunity for all persons in the armed services without regard to race, color, religion or national origin. The milestones are many for African-American Soldiers who have worn the shield of the “Big Red One.”

Fort Riley honored King during a Jan. 22 observance. The nation and Fort Riley will continue to celebrate the achievements of King and of our diverse population by observing February as Black History Month.

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