25, Command Sgt. Maj. Mittie Smith, U.S. Army Garrison
Natick, presents the Rev. Dr. J. Anthony Lloyd, pastor of
the Greater Framingham Community Church and guest speaker at
Natick Soldier Systems Center (NSSC)'s Black History Month
program, an aerial photo of the NSSC in appreciation for his
presentation. (Photo by Anita Tobin.)
Click for Larger Photo
After a welcome and the Pledge of Allegiance, members of SSC's Black
Employment Program Committee and some Soldiers read various versus
of "Still I Rise," by Maya Angelou, which has been described as an
"inspiring poem about overcoming great obstacles/oppression."
A musical solo was
also performed as Sgt. Akya Wilkins sang "Encourage Yourself."
Wilkins said she
chose the song because as we look back through history no one told
people it was time to vote, they had to encourage themselves. As a
Soldier you need to have personal courage to face things you may be
afraid of, she continued. We have to encourage ourselves.
The Rev. Dr. J.
Anthony Lloyd, pastor of the Greater Framingham Community Church,
was the guest speaker for the event. As the theme for 2009's Black
History Month was "The Quest for Black Citizenship in the Americas,"
Lloyd spoke on prophetic citizenship.
He started by using
some of President Barack Obama's comments from Inauguration Day.
Lloyd commented that in the hype of the moment, whether watching on
television or in D.C., some of the words may have been missed.
Repeating the words
from that day, Lloyd said:
"Our challenges may
be new, the instruments with which we meet them may be new, but
those values upon which our success depends, honesty and hard work,
courage and fair play, tolerance and curiosity, loyalty and
patriotism -- these things are old.
These things are
true. They have been the quiet force of progress throughout our
What is demanded
then is a return to these truths. What is required of us now is a
new era of responsibility -- a recognition, on the part of every
American, that we have duties to ourselves, our nation and the
world, duties that we do not grudgingly accept but rather seize
gladly, firm in the knowledge that there is nothing so satisfying to
the spirit, so defining of our character than giving our all to a
This is the price
and the promise of citizenship."
when I speak of prophetic citizenship I hope that people think of
the Bible and the prophets. He specifically mentioned Micah and
Amos, and their hope of people "acting justly, having mercy, and
Recalling the words
of Nelson Mandela, Lloyd mentioned that there is "no easy walk to
freedom anywhere," and the prophetic idea also needs to include
We had a system in
place of racism, of segregation and people who were deprived of
freedoms. However, as a community, Americans decided that they would
no longer sit and accept this, and they stood and marched and
demanded change. People of every color and religion got together and
they emerged as one prophetic voice for social change.
"We need to continue
to advocate for social justice in our time," Lloyd emphasized.
Voting was also a
key part of Lloyd's remarks, and he quoted some words of President
Lyndon B. Johnson from when Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act in
August of 1965.
"The vote is the
most powerful instrument ever devised by man for breaking down
injustice and destroying the terrible walls which imprison men
because they are different from other men."
Lloyd closed his
comments by speaking about the Tuskegee Airmen, who were America's
first black military airmen. As they were asked to contemplate
President Obama's Inauguration, they said, as only Soldiers can, he
has a daunting task, but no need to worry, we've got his back.
To the audience,
Lloyd challenged everyone to help achieve justice, but cautioned not
to worry. "We all got your back."
Command Sgt. Maj.
Mittie Smith, U.S. Army Garrison Natick, mentioned that the printed
program for the event featured photos of three great people who
played a significant part in black history. Rosa Parks, who taught
us that sometimes you need to sit down to stand up; Martin Luther
King, Jr., who had a dream that "we shall overcome;" and President
Barack Obama, who told us, "Yes, we can!"