WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE — Wright-Patterson Air Force Base honored the dream envisioned by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. during Wednesday’s “The Power of a Dream” event, and recognized those who continue to keep that dream alive.
Five individuals, including Senior Airman Kyle Flemings, Capt. Patrick Mudimbi, Senior Airman Daniel Ononiwu, Senior Airman Estephon Ramirez and Senior Airman Richard Salter, were nominated for WPAFB’s Humanitarian award, which recognizes those who continue to live King’s dream through varying efforts within the community.
At the same event, six students, including first grader Aubree Bartlett of Beverly Gardens Elementary School; second grader Aamirah Miller of Demmitt Elementary School; fifth graders Chloe Burnett and Mason Tingly of Main Elementary School; fifth grader Mya Jones of Cedarville Elementary School and high school senior Karmeron Marshall of Walter E. Stebbins High School, were honored for submitting artistic items and essays that portrayed overcoming adversity.
Col. John Devillier, 88th Air Base Wing and Installation Commander at WPAFB expressed pride in the students, stating that they are the future leaders of the nation. He reminded attendees of the worldly outreach of the golden rule during his opening remarks.
“He [Martin Luther King, Jr.] clearly adhered to the golden rule, despite the haters, despite the threats,” Devillier said. “I am fond of saying that one person can make a difference in an organization. Martin Luther King was just one person, so my [challenge] to each of you is to be that one person wherever you work, wherever you socialize. Treat people with dignity, honor and respect and you will be shocked at how you can come together as a community.”
Dr. Clark Beck Sr., who was the first African-American to earn a bachelor of science degree from the University of Cincinnati, served as the event’s keynote speaker.
Beck came to Ohio in 1952 after growing up on a farm in Marion, Ind. He earned his degree in 1955, and later received a master of science degree in aerospace engineering and an honorary doctorate of science. Beck worked for WPAFB for 32 years, completing tasks such as test work on Kevlar before it was utilized for protection and conducting evaluations to determine how the US would take on human-space travel.
He additionally dedicated his time to teaching two days out of the work week and Saturdays to Central State University and Sinclair Community College students. He was named the assistant dean of the college of engineering and computer science at Wright State University in 1987, which is the same year he founded WSU’s Service, Technology and Engineering Preparatory Program. STEPP serves as a tool to prepare students for college and since its founding, more than 900 of its participants have graduated from higher education.
“I believe that Dr. King knew that he would not die an old, old man or that he would have a long life and I believe he also knew he would not die of natural causes,” Beck said. “He knew he would have a traumatic end similar to what he did have — but that did not stop him from dreaming the dream, a powerful dream, for the future and traveling the necessary path to make that dream come true.”