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Civil rights advocate inspires Scott Airmen at ‘We’ Have a Dream event

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Violette Hosack
  • 375 Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs

Reginald Petty, a civil rights advocate, once marched across the Edmund Pettus Bridge with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Fifty-eight years later, Team Scott had the honor of hosting him as a guest speaker for a ‘We’ Have a Dream event on Jan. 12.

Dedicated to inspiring people not to be hindered by current conditions, he offered to sit down with Col. Willie Cooper, 375th Mission Support Group commander, and speak to members at Scott about his life and what it was like growing up during the peak of the Civil Rights Movement.

“It's just remarkable to reflect on someone’s entire life being dedicated to something so selfless. I’d be interested to step back to figure out what led him down this path,” said Cooper, “He is a man, he is a person, he is a human like all of us. So, what inspired him to walk down this path?”

Petty shared many life stories, his experiences in the education system, and the hardships he fought to overcome. He said he would never let his race or other’s opinions stop him from pursuing his aspirations.

“People telling me ‘you’re not good enough to do this, you’re not qualified’ simply became a challenge,” said Petty. 

Cooper and Petty went on to discuss how common “black firsts” still are. After all these years they, and many others, believe and hope these firsts become less common and the accomplishments become a normality.   

“There’s the hope that there will be another,” said Cooper. “It’s one thing to create a blip; it’s another thing for it to be consistent.”

Before the end of the event, Petty opened the floor to discussion and a common theme of questions was how to get through their own struggles and insecurities. 

“I’d like to see us get more involved with each other, working, living, and talking with people from different backgrounds,” he said. “It starts off with you feeling good about yourself, not relating it to your color or anything other than who you are.”