One decision. One action. Equaled change.
One never knows how decisive one decision you make; one action you take, can make a transformational impact on the world. When four young African American men walked into a diner in Greensboro, North Carolina February 1, 1960, it was a lunch order heard around the world.
Setting this moment up, however, were years of inspirational changes being made by Black patriots who fought for a new country throughout the many battles in American history. According to Army retired Brigadier General Arnold Gordon-Bray, these men were fighting for love of liberty.
“These men were risking their lives to create and preserve freedom for their country while attempting to acquire it for themselves,” he said.
Gordon-Bray spoke February 21, to the Charleston District as a guest speaker during Black History Month and discussed the story and history of America’s African American patriots and how they fought for the nation. Their bravery was featured in the documentary “Love and Liberty: The Story of America’s Black Patriots,” directed by Frank Martin and featuring the voices of Hollywood’s “Who’s who” of actors.
With this year’s theme being “Inspiring Change,” the documentary showcases how African Americans played a major role in America’s wars and therefore helped the Black communities assimilate into the US culture by inspiring changes.
The video opens with an introduction by former Secretary of State and retired Army General Colin Powell. It captures the involvement of African Americans from 1770 to present day and the filmmakers amassed over 10,000 hours of footage compiled by curators. The documentary uses letters, diaries, speeches, journalistic accounts, historical text and military records to document the accomplishments of African American men and women since the early days of the Republic.
Gordon-Bray was instrumental in connecting the filmmakers with the U.S. Army and creating an educational opportunity for the Department of Defense. The video is available to DoD agencies as an educational resource tool to learn about the service and sacrifices of Black military members from the Revolutionary war to today’s battle on global terrorism.
Completed over three decades of service in the U. S. Army, Gordon-Bray has demonstrated professional leadership skills in strategic communications, combat operations, foreign affairs, and effective modernization in support of the Department of Defense and national interests.
As a colonel, he developed and led the Army’s Experimentation Community of Practice, a diverse team of over 1,000 operators, experimenters, and innovative developers. He also led, managed, resourced, and synchronized over 100 joint and Army experiments involving thousands of participants that ultimately developed and refined the modular Army and its current successor. He has taken these skills to continually help modernize today’s Army as a senior subject matter expert and board member and advisor to Power Bridge Holdings.
Gordon-Bray fondly talks about his dad, who served in the Navy during World War II. “My dad was a cook and served on the USS Ticonderoga during WWII. And every cook could man those guns. But they didn’t tell America. Because America didn’t want to know, especially in the south, that we had armed or taught African Americans to man those weapons.” But on December 7, 1941, it was a cook, who took up a machine gun and put it to good use. Dorie Miller received the Navy Cross for heroism during the attack and his actions– one man with a machine gun– echo in history.
Another great example of how one decision, one action can inspire change.
His strategic input and leadership skills were routinely employed in establishing US relationships with African leaders and U.S. State Department personnel, often operating at the behest of other directorates or the combatant commanders.
With leadership in mind, he later visited with a group of young men during a classroom session as part of the Boys With a Purpose program for young adults and had a lively discussion on The Five Wells of Renaissance Men by Dr. Robert Franklin. According to Kenny Joyner, founder of Boys With A Purpose, the organization was born out of a commitment to stop passing over the real problems in our community and deal with them head-on.
Gordon-Bray holds Master of Arts in National Security & Strategic Studies, Naval War College, Rhode Island, Master of Science, International Strategic Studies, Air War College, Alabama; Bachelor of Science, Art, University of Central Missouri. Additionally, He holds an honorary doctorate of Humanities from North Carolina Wesleyan College.
The award-winning documentary film “For Love of Liberty,” is available online in two 2-hour parts at: