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The Dream is Still Alive: 9 AF (AFCENT) reflects on Dr. King’s impact

  • Published
  • By Capt. Lauren Linscott and 1st Lt. Joshua Sinclair
  • Ninth Air Force (Air Forces Central) Public Affairs

In honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday, the Ninth Air Force (Air Forces Central) Equality Working Group hosted a hybrid panel and town hall Jan. 12, at Shaw Air Force Base.

The panel began with a reading of King’s “I Have a Dream” speech, followed with a discussion between members on the panel and the audience. The discussion focused on diversity and inclusion in the U.S. Air Force today and if attendee’s believed King’s dream was still alive.

Three senior leaders facilitated the event: Chief Master Sgt. John Storms, 9 AF (AFCENT) command chief; CMSgt Janna Wesley, 10th Force Support Squadron senior enlisted leader; and CMSgt Isaac Carr, South Carolina Air National Guard’s state command chief.

These leaders discussed how senior enlisted and officers should always encourage honest and respectful conversations.

“We need to arm supervisors with cultural competencies,” said Wesley. “We all come from different backgrounds, different cultures, and we are navigating this environment together.”

A theme of the town hall was teaching 9 AF (AFCENT) members how to develop empathy for other viewpoints by actively listening to understand another’s perspective, getting clarification where there is confusion or misunderstanding, and discovering points of connection with those who think or believe differently about an important issue.

“As we journey through our careers in the Air Force, we are not always privy to someone else’s experiences,” said Wesley. “Sometimes you have to ask.”