African-Americans receive recognition for service
Pictured from left Command Sgt. Maj. Franklin Jordan, 101st BSB, 1st ABCT, speaks with retired Trooper James G. Madison and 1st Sgt. Albert Curley Feb. 20 during Fort Riley’s African-American/Black History Month Observance at Riley’s Conference Center. Curley and Madison were Buffalo Soldiers, who served in the 9th and 10th Cav. Regt.’s, respectively. Photo by: Amanda Kim Stairrett, 1ST INF. DIV.
Story by: Amanda Kim Stairrett
1ST INF. DIV. PUBLIC AFFAIRS
Maj. Ivy J. Williams wanted people within the Army's ranks to understand African-Americans wish to be acknowledged for their contributions to society.
"As we have shared in the hardships of this country, so do we desire to share in its success," he said.
Williams, plans and operations chief of training, 1st Infantry Division, spoke Feb. 20 during Fort Riley's African-American/Black History Month Observance at Riley's Conference Center.
Also in attendance were retired 1st Sgt. Albert Curley and Trooper James G. Madison. Both were Buffalo Soldiers, who served in the 9th and 10th Cavalry Regiments, respectively.
Curley, a Junction City resident, joined the Army in 1940 and deployed to Italy during World War II. He served 28 years in the Army. Madison, who resides in the Kansas City area, served from 1942 to 1945.
Williams thanked Curley and Madison for "clearing the way for Soldiers like me." Getting to thank them was an honor, he said later.
"I only hope I did them justice," Williams said.
This year's theme was, "At the crossroads of freedom and equality," and Williams said that placed responsibility on everyone.
"Although we have made great strides in racial equality and freedom, there is still a ways to go," he said. "We must not be complacent with the success we've experienced. We must go further."
Williams also talked about notable African-Americans, like Bruce McMarion Wright, the first black man to wear the 1st Inf. Div. patch in combat – who later served as a New York State Supreme Court judge; Thurgood Marshall, Josiah Henson and Harriet Tubman.
All of these people came to a crossroads and made a decision, Williams said. They all wanted the same thing: Freedom.
"We've all been at a crossroads," Williams said
He and other African-American Soldiers wear their uniforms because they defend the Constitution, he said, and, "all we wanted was simple acknowledgement."
Also during the ceremony, the 1st Inf. Div. Jazz Combo provided music. LaBarbara Wigfall, associate professor of landscape architecture and regional and community planning, Kansas State University, and Angela Muhwezi of Wichita, senior, K-State, performed a special song selection.