San Antonio’s Most Prestigious Community Leaders Come Together at Hallmark University’s Celebration
The month of February is a special one, as communities around the world come together to celebrate in the name of love, acceptance, and perhaps most importantly, history. All over the nation, we gather to honor Black History Month, to pay tribute to the generations of African Americans who struggled with adversity and fought for their rights and freedom. Hallmark University has the 3rd largest percentage of African Americans in its student body among Associate and Bachelor degree-granting institutions in San Antonio, and it was honored to host Hallmark’s very own Vice President of Advancement, Clarence “Reggie” Williams as keynote speaker for a Black History Month Celebration for students, staff, and some of San Antonio’s most prestigious community leaders.
Before joining Hallmark University, Reggie served in the United States Air Force and retired at the rank of Colonel after more than 27 years of service. This considerable career in the Air Force took Reggie all over the world, exposing him to new communities, their people, and their cultures. Reggie’s understanding and appreciation of black history was one of transformation, and he shared his story with the gathering of community leaders, family, and friends at Hallmark’s Black History Month Celebration.
“When I was a young man, I was not enthusiastic about black history, aside from the family history that I knew,” said Reggie Williams. “Throughout high school and college, I knew very little about our history, and what I did know seemed tragic and degrading. I had not fully considered what gave my people the strength necessary to survive and thrive. What did they have that allowed them to see thousands of lynching’s and still stand strong? Where did the strength come from to suffer the Tulsa murders, the Tuskegee untreated Syphilis experiments, and the hanging of US Soldiers, whose only crime was trying to protect black women from harm? Where did we come from, and how did we get here?”
Reggie gave considerable thought to these questions. How did the African American community persist in the face of such oppression, surviving with sound body and mind? During a tour of West Minster Abby in London, England, Reggie fell upon an English Coat of Arms. Seeing the emblazoned family crest, symbolizing the family’s history and character that was held dear for all to see, Reggie wondered what a Black Family Crest might look like.
“Here it is,” Reggie said, pointing to his family crest created with stained glass. “This is how we got here, from where we came from—still standing, still accomplishing, and still contributing to our nation and the world. This crest represents the qualities of our character that have gotten us here today. We came to this country as slaves and were forced to work in the fields. Unbeknownst to our oppressors, that work ethic would permit the children of slaves to succeed where others might fail.”
Reggie detailed how the elements of his family crest depict traits within the African American community’s perseverance throughout history: faith, education, love, hard work, and courage. Reggie shared how courage is the most important trait of all, easily found in every part of the African American community.
“Without courage, you cannot stand in the face of the wrong. Without courage, you cannot do the right thing, and you cannot endure. Black history is filled with examples of those who showed courage in the face of adversity, who stood for what they knew was right. Rosa Parks, Dr. Martin Luther King Junior, those wonderful kids that sat at lunch counters, watching the girl next to them have lit cigarettes put out on her shoulders, and still refuse to fight. That is courage, doing the right thing in the face of adversity.”
Reggie’s story honors the history, the vibrant spirit, the faith, and the persistence to endure among the African American community. His address at Hallmark University’s Black History Month Reception encouraged the gathering of friends not to forget the journey we have all taken together but also to move forward with courage and love for all.