BATTLE CREEK, Mich. –
Federal employees at the Hart-Dole-Inouye Federal Center gathered January 16 in Battle Creek, Michigan, to observe Martin Luther King, Jr. Day and remember the civil rights icon’s call to service.
Guest speakers included Battle Creek Schools Superintendent Kim Carter and pilot and Air Force Lt. Col. Donald Davenport, who took questions and shared their thoughts on the meaning of service and leadership within their communities.
Carter talked about some of the individuals that had sowed seeds of success in her life and the need for people to develop “perseverance, the ability to overcome and stay focused, and in everything you do, maintain integrity.”
Davenport mentioned early mentors in his life, including Tuskegee Airmen who would regularly visit his school when he was a boy.
“We had no idea that we had living legends visiting us daily,” Davenport said. He said he didn’t realize until much later that “the seeds they planted” brought him to where he is today, and he encouraged all to consider mentorship and exposing youth to possibilities.
“You’ve got to start when they’re young, plant the seed, and hope they grow,” he said.
Carter and Davenport took turns talking about advice they would give new leaders, the biggest leadership challenges they have faced and what they felt the keys to the development of the next generation of leaders was.
Anthony Plants, a DLA Information Operations information technology specialist, gave closing remarks and encouraged attendees to consider how they serve during the MLK holiday.
“What can we do to bear faith and allegiance to the promises of the Constitution?” Plants asked. “How can we support and defend its intent? Dr. King once said ‘Everyone can be great, because everyone can serve.’ This January 21st will mark the 25th time our nation has collectively honored the late civil rights leader’s legacy. Let us remember why this federal holiday is the only one designated as a national day of service. Let us honor the legacy of Dr. King and all others who have fought to see the intent of the Constitution carried out in real action by finding ways to serve our communities and our fellow Americans this month.”