Civil rights leader speaks at MLK Day of Service

By Natalie Skelton DLA Aviation Public Affairs Office


Defense Logistics Agency Aviation welcomed civil rights leader Lonnie King Jr., as the honored guest at a Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service presentation Jan. 30. Co-sponsored by DLA Aviation’s Procurement Process Support Directorate and Office of Equal Employment Opportunity and Diversity, King’s presentation drew nearly 350 attendees to the Frank Lotts Conference Center at Defense Supply Center Richmond, Virginia. DLA Aviation employees outside of the Richmond area were also able to view the presentation via teleconference.

Reflecting on his time working to advance civil rights in the U.S., the 81-year-old King told his audience that nonviolence is the best way to effect change across the country and that democracy, “doesn’t work on cruise control. To make change happen some noise must be made,” he said.

“The liberty bell will not ring unless you pull the cord. When you pull the cord you’re going to make some noise,” said King.

King was a founding chairman of the Atlanta Student Movement in Georgia and marched with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., during the civil rights movement. He organized the first Freedom Rides in December 1960, was a founding member of the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee, and was president of the Atlanta branch of the NAACP from 1969 to 1973. King also worked for the inclusion of African-American and Hispanic talent in television broadcasting during the late 1960s and early 1970s.

He acknowledged the role of immigrants in forming the U.S. and of women to the civil rights movement. He said though the nation is imperfect, it is a grand experiment and everyone within its borders deserves to be treated equally under the law. “We hold these truths … that [all men] …  and they should have said women, but they didn’t … are created equal,” King said.

Cheryl Harris, inventory management specialist, Mapping Division, Customer Operations Directorate, DLA Aviation, appreciated King’s words about the importance of women to the movement.

“He mentioned women as an intricate part of the accomplishments and goals of the civil rights movement. That is a very important piece that is [often] left out,” said Harris. “They walked alongside [men]. I’m happy to hear he has acknowledged that women are an important part of change.”

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