By Sgt. Matthew C. Cooley
15th Sustainment Brigade
"Oh Lord, why did you make me black?"
The pleading words rang out through the auditorium and fell on hundreds of attentive ears.
"Black is the color of dirty clothes, grimy hands and feet," Master Sgt. Dorothea Goodson, 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary), said as she delivered a powerful poem to a packed Howze Theater Feb. 25 as part of a 13th Sustainment Black History Month celebration.
"Why did you give me thick lips, a broad nose and kinky hair?" she asked, pointing at the features in question.
She continued the line of questioning and then the poem's tone changed.
"God answers," she said in almost a whisper.
"Why did I make you black? I didn't make you in the image of darkness I made you in the image of me," she said as her voice grew stronger.
"You are the color of dark clouds soar when I send my strongest weather;
Your lips are full so when you kiss the one you love, he will always remember."
The afternoon observance was filled with songs, poems, and a speech by former Copperas Cove councilman Fred Harris, and punctuated by African-American soldiers scattered throughout the audience who stood up and said a little about a prominent African-American from a first-person perspective.
"I served this great nation for 35 years. I became the first African American to become secretary of state. I am Gen. Colin Powell," one soldier said.
"I am the first African-American president of the United States of America. I am President Barrack Obama," said another proudly.
"Even though faced with such adversity, I was able to turn stumbling blocks into stepping stones," Command Sgt. Maj. Kevin Stuart, 1st Medical Brigade, 13th Sustainment, said as he forcefully recited his moving poem, "I am Strong."
His dramatic poem briefly told the story of African Americans from slavery to presidency. "Through the strength of my convictions and the wealth of my many abilities today I'm," he said as he began to list the many important positions in society now held by African-Americans.
"See, I've earned the right, and I'm elected as mayor, governor and now president."
Harris, the London, W.Va. native and retired soldier shared some of his experiences and thoughts with the soldiers.
"Everything that was good that happened to me while I was in the Army happened to me while I was at Fort Hood," he said early in his speech.
"Fort Hood is the place to be if you want to get ahead because Fort Hood has at least one of everything that the Army has."
Harris also talked about the changes he saw in the Army, but explained that the Army, and the nation, still had a long way to go.
"One big change is the acceptance of women in the Army, one of the best things that ever happened," he said to applause and shouted agreement from female voices.
"I still am waiting to see a woman general command troops in the field. I want to live long enough to see that … soldiers are ready for it."
Harris finished with an account of some of his experiences and explained his thoughts on where the Army and the country were headed.
"When I came in the Army (it) was supposed to have integrated, but I served in a lot of units where I was the only black person in that unit. I didn't get treated any differently, but nobody wanted to socialize with me," he said.
"Those kinds of things are changing."