By Aria Brent,
AFRO Staff Writer
Congressman Kweisi Mfume, veterans and community members gathered at the War Memorial Plaza on May 29 to honor those they’ve lost to war. The Maryland Center for Veterans Education and Training(MCVET) was given a $3,000,000 dollar check presented by Mfume, and representatives from MCVET spoke along with former Maryland State Delegate, Clarence “Tiger” Davis.
Col. Walter Mitchell is a board member for MCVET, a Vietnam veteran and a Morgan State alum. In 1994 Mitchell began to work for what was then known as “Maryland Homeless Veterans” an organization whose initial mission was to get veterans off the streets. Shortly after their initial launching the organization renamed themselves MCVET after realizing they were doing so much more than providing housing for veterans who needed it.
“All the founders were really proud that we changed the name to reflect what we currently do. Our goal has always been to return the veterans to their communities as productive citizens,” stated Mitchell.
Much like Mitchell, Davis is dedicated to his fellow veterans. However, Mitchell’s work is centered around providing veterans with resources for a better life, and Davis is focused on assuring Black veterans both alive and deceased receive the honors and awards they deserve.
Davis is known for his advocacy for the support, rights and resources of all veterans especially minorities and women. During his speech he acknowledged a multitude of military organizations and veteran groups such as the National Association for Black Veterans, the 231st Transportation Battalion, veterans of the Vietnam war and Lambda Beta Alpha Military Sorority. He discussed Mfume’s ongoing commitment to those that have served in the military and reminded the audience to be grateful for the congressman’s contributions.
Davis stated “Kweisi may not have served in the military,but he has always served us. There are lots of people who tell veterans ‘Thank you for your service,’ and then they’re gone. Kweisi is not like that. From day one, when we started having African American patriots day downtown, Kweisi was always there.”
Davis’ closing remarks focused on the ongoing racism that exists in the U.S military. Sharing stories of Black war heroes who have never been properly awarded for their service, he noted this as a sign of America’s lack of progression. Urging those in the audience to write to the secretary of the Navy about these disparities within the military.
Following the ceremony the AFRO spoke with Davis one-on-one, about the importance of Black veterans and the origins of Memorial Day.
“It’s always important to honor those people who defended the nation. One of the things we need to understand is that Memorial Day was initiated by former slaves in Charleston, South Carolina,” said Davis. “It is important for us to remember all our fathers, mothers and grandfathers who have not been properly recognized–people such as Doris Miller, Charles French and many others who should have received the Congressional Medal of Honor.”
Explaining that the general public can write to the secretary of the Navy, Carlos Del Toro, to help combat the racist and resistant mindsets that have prevented veterans like Miller from being awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor. Davis shared they’re going to open the campaign up with Congress and then the White House starting in July.
“Now is the time on a day like today for us to remember those people who have not been remembered by the broader society,” said Davis.