Chief reflects on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Abbey Rieves
  • 17th Training Wing Public Affairs

Nearly 57 years before The Goodfellow Way, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s famous “I have a dream,” speech projected a vision so consumed with energy, leaders around the country continue to push for civil and economic rights and to end racism in the United States.

“Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. has truly been an inspiration for me,” said Chief Master Sgt. Lavor Kirkpatrick, 17th Training Wing command chief.  “As an African American man, I know that the civil rights movement has made a lot of opportunities available for my family and me.”

Originally from Jamaica, the Kirkpatrick family line set new roots in America in the 1960s.

“Dr. King and the civil rights movement was a big reason why my grandmother made the decision to move to America,” said Kirkpatrick. “At that same time, Dr. King was advocating and marching in the streets making sure we had the voting rights and getting the civil rights bill done. He assured that America upheld the very same promises that brought my family here.”

The promise that brought the Kirkpatrick family to America is still alive in our command chief’s heart.

“Dr. King and his legacy is something I’ve always gone back to, particularly as a senior strategic leader,” said Kirkpatrick. “When I think about what Dr. King has done, I think about the vision he had cast. He spoke to that dream on the National Mall and he told people what he saw. A day where little black boys and little white girls could hold hands and be judged only on the content of their character, and not by the color of their skin. At that time, his vision seemed near impossible because the country was so divided.”

By remembering the efforts lead by King in the past, Kirkpatrick relates it to his own leadership ethic now.

“Dr. King had cast a vision, demonstrated the type of leadership the country needed and put energy behind that leadership, inspiring people to go out and make the vision a reality,” said Kirkpatrick. “I can’t think of a better example in modern times of leadership at its best.”

Though the observance of MLK observance day is a day off of work, we are reminded to reflect on King’s vision.

“I encourage people to participate in the observance and enjoy the day for what it’s intended for,’’ said Staff Sgt. Layne Jackson 17th Training Wing Equal Opportunity specialist. “It’s intended to recognize how far we’ve come from the days of segregation and inequality and coming together as brother and sisters to enjoy the day.”

In addition to reflection, we are encouraged to dream.

“One person can make a difference,” said Kirkpatrick. “You don’t have to be elected into office or come from a wealthy background. A single person with a dream and passion can make a significant difference.”