AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) – At Augusta University, for Black History Month, retired Army Col. Gary Steele spoke in front of a group at the Jaguar Student Activities Center.
Steele was the Army’s first Black American to earn a varsity letter in football at West Point.
From 1966 to 1970 Steele played, and then he went on to have a 23-year Army Career after graduation.
“I recognized that I was one of few African American cadets there at the time, but that was not a plus or a minus it just was and we all jumped into the same pot together and we worked really hard,” said Steele.
It wasn’t until years later that Steele saw the significance of his role on the team.
“I was just a member of the team. I worked hard for my first team possession and I wanted to keep it, so I was willing to do anything I could to keep it, but it was after I graduated, when we started having more African American cadets in, and playing football, that I realized that, ‘wow, maybe there was some significance to it,” said Steele.
Steele touched on plenty of topics during his presentation, and wanted to make sure that his audience went home with a message.
“You’re standing on someone else’s shoulders, whose shoulders are you standing on, and when was the last time you acknowledged that to them, one. Two, always choose the harder right, over the easier wrong, I think those two things, for me,” said Steele.
At the end of the presentation, Steele was honored with a trophy, and received a standing ovation.
“It’s an honor and I can’t wait to get back home in my office and sit down, and read it, again, by myself, quietly,” said Steele.