Strength through diversity: Team MacDill honors MLK

A cardboard cutout of Dr. Martin Luther King (MLK) Jr. stands on display at an MLK observance luncheon at MacDill Air Force Base, Fla., Jan. 11, 2018.

A cardboard cutout of Dr. Martin Luther King (MLK) Jr. stands on display at an MLK observance luncheon at MacDill Air Force Base, Fla., Jan. 11, 2018. The observance honored the legacy of King and his efforts for the civil rights movement. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Adam R. Shanks)

Anthony Brinkley, a retired chief master sergeant, delivers a speech during a Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. observance luncheon at MacDill Air Force Base, Fla., Jan. 11, 2018.

Anthony Brinkley, a retired chief master sergeant, delivers a speech during a Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. observance luncheon at MacDill Air Force Base, Fla., Jan. 11, 2018. Brinkley shared King’s vision as a leader and highlighted the qualities King demonstrated during his push for equality during the 1950s and 1960s. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Adam R. Shanks)

Members of the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. committee and Anthony Brinkley, a retired chief master sergeant and inspirational speaker, pause for a photo with a display of King during an MLK observance luncheon at MacDill Air Force Base, Fla., Jan. 11, 2018.

Members of the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. committee and Anthony Brinkley, a retired chief master sergeant and inspirational speaker, pause for a photo with a display of King during an MLK observance luncheon at MacDill Air Force Base, Fla., Jan. 11, 2018. The theme of the luncheon, “Strength through diversity” sought to share King’s quest for nondiscrimination and equality. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Adam R. Shanks)

MACDILL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. --

Members of Team MacDill gathered Jan. 11, 2018, to honor the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., with an observance luncheon at the base chapel.

During the observance, attendees viewed videos showcasing equality and strength through diversity, allowing them to reflect on the path the U.S. has taken since the Civil Rights Movement began in the mid-1950s.

“The Doctor [King] believed in ‘Three Cs,’ which stood for conscience, courage and commitment,” said Anthony Brinkley, a retired chief master sergeant and inspirational speaker. “He understood that a fulfilling life involved a fruitful dialogue, not a preconceived monologue that cannot be changed.”

He explained that in order for change, a leader must come forward, and be able to voice ideas that make others see from their point of view. Brinkley also shared an anecdote about military service during King’s time, saying that segregation was not limited to just society, but the profession of arms as well.

“Just think that MacDill was segregated at one point, and during World War II, German prisoners of war were held in our country,” said Brinkley. “The command chief of MacDill at the time, who was Black, would take the POWs to a restaurant, but had to enter through the backdoor while the prisoners came in through the front, just because the color of his skin.

“Society has come a very long way since then, and diversity is everywhere in our military.”

Brinkley was asked to speak because of his perspective and his military experiences.

“When I was asked who to invite as a guest speaker, Chief Brinkley was the first person I thought of,” said Master Sgt. Wesley Walker, the NCO in charge of plans, projects assigned to the 6th Communications Squadron. “I believe his powerful speech was perfect at highlighting what Martin Luther King stood for, and died for.

“To me, diversity is what makes our military and Air Force great.”