Yvonne Latty Presents Martin Luther King Jr. Day Keynote Address At Mount Union College

April 01, 2010

Yvonne Latty, reporter and author of 'We Were There: Voices of African American Veterans,' encouraged all Americans, African Americans in particular, to be proud of their history in her keynote address celebrating Martin Luther King Day.



'It's a book about empowerment,' said Latty. 'When you know your history you can walk with your back straighter and head held higher.'

'We Were There: Voices of African American Veterans' covers the experiences of more than two dozen U.S. war veterans ranging from lieutenants to surgical nurses in World War II to the War in Iraq. These stories of their experiences in combat, in the barracks, and in their hometowns after returning from war inspire Americans of the sacrifices these African American veterans made for our country.

Latty cited a number of examples from World War II in which history had ignored the contributions of African-Americans in combat. For example, Latty recounted an experience of a World War II nurse whom was fatigued after a long day of providing health care to injured troops. About to fall to the ground in exhaustion, two white nurses came and helped carry her to a place where she could rest. When the moonlight hit her face, her black skin was revealed to the two white nurses who then dropped her to the ground.

Latty's book cites veterans' experiences returning home to a country that wanted them to fail, experiences where their veteran status was lowered because of their race.

Latty encouraged Americans not to feel shame about racism. 'Instead, be proud of all of our accomplishments we have made thus far,' she said.

The keynote address ended with the presentation of this year's Martin Luther King Jr. Awards to those who exemplify the character and life of Dr. King.


LaTashia Reedus, director of multicultural students affairs, and Dr. Ivory Lyons, director of African American studies, presented this year's honors to Mount Union student Anthony Jones, Dr. Steve Kramer, Michelle Gaffney and Matthew Horning.

Jones is a senior art major from Youngstown. He has been involved with the Black Student Union, men's basketball and the Dowling Mentor Program.

'Anthony (Jones) does a tremendous job of going above and beyond in all that he is involved with,' said one of his nominators.

Gaffney, director of housing and residence life at Mount Union, has been involved in various activities such as Diversity Initiatives Steering Committee, the MLK committee, tunnel of oppression and the formation of the liberal studies 100 curriculum designed for first semester students at the College.

Horning, son of Mount Union professor of economics, accounting and business administration Martin Horning, is the director of the Navigators After School Program for Alliance Middle School and was nominated for the community award.

'It is humbling that the community feels I am worthy of something with Dr. Martin Luther King's name on it,' said Horning.

Kramer, a professor of psychology at the College, was also nominated for the community award for his involvement in activities that benefit the Alliance area, notably through his work with Habitat for Humanity and the creation of the Alliance Neighborhood Center.

All winners were presented with a plaque and a copy of Latty's book, 'We Were There: Voices of African American Veterans.'

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