TITUSVILLE, Fla. – At 76 years old, retired U.S. Air Force Col. Herman Cole will tell you he’s experienced things that most people will never.
When he was in high school, he marched with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
“As a child in Charleston, I saw the Ku Klux Klan come out and burn crosses in front of my neighbor’s homes,” Cole said.
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Growing up in the segregated deep South, he witnessed to horrors of racism firsthand, but at a young age, he realized the power of unity.
“When I was in third grade, my aunt was an elementary school teacher and they would plan trips to Charleston Air Force base,” Cole said.
He tagged along on one of those trips and saw Black and white people getting along, a rarity in 1954.
“It was not something you saw,” Cole said.
That trip to the Air Force base changed Cole’s perspective and his life. It’s part of the reason he’s been able to build relationships and rise through the ranks in the Air Force during his 26-year military career.
After high school, Cole attended Tuskegee University and went on to serve in the U.S. Air Force. His military assignments took the Vietnam War veteran all over the globe, from London to Saudi Arabia.
When he retired in 1994, he held the rank of full colonel. But his service did not end there.
Since 1994, Cole has served on numerous community and civic boards, taking up roles like chairman on the Board of Directors of Parrish Medical Center and president of the Titusville Rotary Club.
In 2019, he created the Humanity Task Force for Social Change.
“I see us reverting back to the ‘50s and ‘60s, so I formed this Humanity Task force,” Cole told News 6.
His focus now is to continue his service in his community in Titusville, where he’s currently running for city council.
This Juneteenth, Cole’s mission spans beyond just service—he wants to share his knowledge with the next generation in hopes of getting closer to equality for all.