CIA Celebrates the Life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
The Central Intelligence Agency today commemorated the life and legacy of one of America’s greatest leaders, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
The keynote speaker at this annual Agency event, the Reverend Dr. H. Beecher Hicks, Jr., senior minister of the Metropolitan Baptist Church in Washington, D.C., discussed the lasting impact of Dr. King’s words and work. He addressed a standing-room only crowd in the CIA Headquarters Auditorium.
“If there is any value in the observance of this celebration, it reminds us of who we are, where we have come from, and the long road that is yet before us,” he said. “They shot Martin on the balcony of a motel in Memphis. But I’ve come here to tell you today that Martin is one man who still speaks. Martin speaks whenever our people achieve the excellence that is within. Martin speaks when our children go to college and exceed even their own expectations. Martin speaks when we make our way to the polls and exercise the given right to vote. Martin speaks when our schools educate and when our churches inspire us to be more than we thought we could be.”
In welcoming Dr. Hicks, CIA Deputy Director Stephen R. Kappes emphasized the critical importance of diversity in all aspects of the Agency’s mission:
“Intelligence analysis demands diversity in our people and our thought,” Mr. Kappes said. “A spirited clash of ideas is not only inevitable in our profession, but necessary. We don’t shy away from it. Human and technical clandestine operations require us to understand and to live in the diversity of the world’s nations and cultures. Our success depends on it. The challenges that confront the men and women of our Directorate of Support demand a workplace with varied backgrounds, skills, and expertise to maintain our global presence. This is critical to our mission; it’s essential. To accomplish those objectives, we must build an ever more diverse and ever more capable workforce. We are committed to that goal.”
Mr. Kappes noted that one-third of the officers who have joined CIA since the beginning of this fiscal year identify themselves as racial or ethnic minorities, a significant increase over the figures for the past two fiscal years.
Before Dr. Hicks spoke, the audience watched Dr. King’s 1963 “I Have a Dream” speech and enjoyed songs by the internationally acclaimed “Voices of Inspiration,” a choral group led by the Reverend Nolan Williams.