Fabrics of various colors and designs meshed together into a tapestry celebrating African American culture and community at The Point in Jacksonville, Feb. 8. The Montford Point Marine Association Inc. Lejeune 10 Auxiliary held its 4th Annual African American Heritage Luncheon, inviting all people to attend in the dress of their ancestors’ culture.

“Look at the beauty of all these diverse cultures coming together as one,” said Renea Lewis, auxiliary public relation officer. “We have seen more people participating in dressing with the theme this year.”

Judy E. James, the MPMA national auxiliary president, served as the event’s chairperson.

“I wanted us to do something to celebrate African American History Month as well as to celebrate our unity,” said James, who sees the event as having grown over the past four years.

This year’s theme was “Believe, Achieve, Succeed.”

“African American history, our history, is American history,” Lewis said during the luncheon’s opening remarks. “Modern history often ignores African American history, instead skipping straight to slavery. … History shows us that if you believe it, you can achieve it. For our forefathers, those beliefs were freedom, education and equality.”

The event’s guest speaker was Ernie Wright, a U.S. Marine Corps veteran and attorney. Wright has served as Onslow County Commissioner, a state chairman, president of the Onslow County Bar Association and a multitude of other roles in the community.

Also in attendance was honored guest Norman Preston, a Montford Point Marine, who turns 98-years-old in May. Preston served in the Marine Corps from 1943 to 1947. He was also the first African American electrician on the Pacific railroad.

“Everything we do is because of the Montford Point Marines,” Lewis said. “We aim to continue their legacy and honor their memory in all our work.”