Carlyle Walton, president and CEO of Metroplex Hospital, was the keynote speaker at the 2014 Black History Month Observance on Friday sponsored by III Corps and Fort Hood at Club Hood.

The jazz band “Spur of the Moment” performed, actors from Vive Les Arts Theatre read authentic slave narratives and sang ballads, and retired Lt. Col. Granville Coggs — one of 50 remaining Tuskegee Airmen — was honored.

Walton reminded the audience that this year marks the 50th anniversary of the passage of the Civil Rights Act. He stressed being “engaging and inspiring,” citing noteworthy leaders Martin Luther King Jr., Abraham Lincoln and Nelson Mandela.

“The question that I invite us to ponder this afternoon is, ‘What are the characteristics we need to embrace to heed the call to be engaging and inspiring citizens of this great land?’” Walton said. He went on to cite four key traits: Commitment, persistence, wisdom and “teach-ability.”

“(King) understood the meaning of commitment. It was a thread tightly woven into the fabric of his life ... weave it into yours,” he said.

Sharing an old saying from his mother, Walton said because God has given us two ears and one mouth, we should listen twice as much as we speak.

“Teach-ability requires a willingness to be an active listener, someone who truly hears what the other person is saying and invests in learning,” he said.

To explain persistence, Walton quoted Dave Wembayn, a speaker, author and philosopher. “Fight the tendency to quit while you are behind,” he said. “In the journey to engagement and inspiration, we need to decide that as a part of this community, I will be one of those who will make things happen.”

Abraham Lincoln embodied persistence, said Walton, noting Lincoln suffered many personal and professional failures before becoming the 16th president of the United States. The Emancipation Proclamation, which freed the slaves, was arguably Lincoln’s crowning achievement as president, but Walton said not everyone was pleased with the new law.

“To many northerners, the president’s action was tantamount to treason.”

True wisdom, Walton said, allows people to live without resentment and make a difference. “True wisdom frees us to be people who forget themselves, and when we forget ourselves, we usually do things that others remember.”

I am an Army wife and mother of two boys...we currently are assigned to Fort Hood.

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