Standing on the shoulders of giants

  • Published
  • By Ch. Capt. Carl M. Johnson
  • 452 AMW Chaplain Corps

Unfortunately, in contemporary times, we are not only faced with a pandemic, but cases of ongoing police brutality, racial injustice and social classicism all over the country. Emotions are high and civil unrest is prevalent.


In such situations, as leaders, it is our responsibility to follow in the footsteps and paths of those historical, civil rights leaders – those who poised confidence, showcased perseverance and remained determined to succeed in their ultimate goal. We are standing on the shoulders of giants who have shown pragmatic qualities of excellence that we are ready to embody.


One such giant is Martin Luther King Jr., who was inspired by Mahatma Gandhi and hoped for the ultimate end to racial segregation.


King’s 1963 “I Have a Dream” address, by the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, is a defining moment in this country’s Civil Rights Movement. The speech began with a reference to the Emancipation Proclamation that abolished slavery. King said the “decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice.” Although he said it was “an end to the long night of their captivity,” he continued with, “But, one hundred years later a Negro still is not free.”


The delivery of the speech then transitioned toward an overarching theme, “I have a dream” – that highlighted King’s dreams, aspirations and hope of viewing a land free of slavery and hatred due to racism. The speech, that is still remembered today, was delivered to an audience of more than 250,000 civil rights supporters and, ultimately, directed thought and a mindset that was established throughout subsequent generations.


Rosa Parks was another honorary civil rights activist who was known for her bravery and courageous attitude during the 1950s.


Often referred to as “The Mother of the Civil Rights Movement,” Parks refused to subjugate to racial supremacy on a public bus in Montgomery, Alabama. Just four days later, unification of the black community organized protests in the boycott of the city’s public buses, the effects of which lasted for about a year. The collective protests, along with other initiatives, marked the beginning of the Civil Rights Movement – a nationwide effort to solve racial segregation.


Leaders and historical events such as these allow us to look inward, to find the motivation we require to be the leaders of today.


As part of the esteemed United States Air Force, our ultimate mission is to fly, fight and win. As leaders, we continue to fulfill that mission and serve our family, friends and this great nation. We continue to showcase resilience and determination through the examples of the giants mentioned above because we are the leaders of today, setting current trends for future generations to live in a world where racial segregation and racism is a thing of the past.