CARBONDALE, IL (KFVS) - Students from Thomas, Parish and Carbondale Middle School all gathered on Tuesday evening for a celebration of Black History Month.
Each one of the kids picked a African-American person from Carbondale, and then studied that person's life.
The keynote speaker and Carbondale native Dr. Archibald Mosley shared his time in history as he served in the U.S. Marines Corp.
Dr. Archibald Mosley is one of the original Marines who were recruited and trained at Montford Point, North Carolina.
The all black unit was the first of it's kind for the Marines.
Before World War II no blacks were allowed in the Marines. Then a degree from President Franklin Roosevelt directed the U.S. Marines to train blacks.
"I answered the call. And what I want these young people to know if the time comes for them to answer the call that they will," said Dr. Archibald. "You owe society, you owe your neighbor, and you owe your country. How much do you think of your country if you can't defend it?"
There were only 20,000 African-Americans trained from 1942-1949 at Montford Point. And two years the unit was recognized for their service with a Congressional Gold Medal.
Reverend Mosley recalls what he said the night he was presented with the medal in Washington D.C., "Well you didn't want me, but you needed me and I answered the call. And I'm glad to see that you realize that, that wasn't quite right. But after all these years you finally say thanks for answering my call." Reverend Mosley said.
The evening included songs and poems written by people from Carbondale. And delivered by the kids.
And throughout the evening the students, their friends and families were all reminded why Black History is so important.
"Because of everything that has happened. The Civil Rights movement and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.," said Nia-Ari Gant. "All those people who have come out here to make this day possible. For us to actually be in a school and to all be together. And to have a chance to make friends with people in this world. So yeah it's pretty important."
The Reverend Mosley went back to college at SIU after serving in the war.
He eventually earned five college degrees at SIU - two bachelor's and two master's degrees of Science and Theology, and a Ph.D. in communications.
Mosley had two successful careers; one as a reverend and another as a professor and dean at Shaw College of Detroit.