Forty-four years after the assassination of a civil rights icon, residents in Abilene residents march in a city where he never stepped footÂ to remember his legacy.
Nearly two hundred people gathered Monday, the national holiday in his honor,Â at the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Bridge on East Highway 80 to march and sing songs in tribute of the fallen leader.
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“It’s nice to commemorate Dr.Martin Luther King,” said 14-year-old Jeremiah Dismukes, a member of the Carver Youth Council. “I think his dream was equality for everybody.”
Dismukes said that the dream still isn’t complete, but it is a work in progress.
“There’s more to go but a lot of it has been fulfilled,” said 24-year-old Michelle Smith. “The fact that we’re able to come together as one: African Americans, White, Mexican, Chinese and all different nationalities.”
For Smith, the greatest landmark of success in King’s dream was the election of a Black president. “I can’t stress enough that we have made it to this point,” said Smith. She recalled listening to older Black people talk about how we [America] would never have a Black president, “but now this is a historical moment for us. To be able to experience that in my generation is just great.”
Along the march some carried flowers, others a banner and some a poster with a simple message “Keeping the Dream Alive.” As they marched from the corner of Cockerell Street, across the MLK bridge to Treadaway Boulevard and back, the crowd sang the words to the old spirituals We Will Overcome and Victory is Mine.
The afternoon march wasn’t the only way Abilenians could celebrate the life of Martin Luther King Jr. The Abilene Black Chamber of Commerce supports an MLK banquet each year, and the 2012 theme was “A Community in Service.”
Two hundred people attended the banquet at the Abilene Civic Center including U.S. Representative Randy Neugebauer and Air Force Lt. Gen. Ronnie Hawkins Jr., the keynote speaker.
Hawkins encouraged the audience to continue to push for what King stood for and not become complacent in everday individualistic affairs.
More simply put were the words of Dismukes, “We still have to make sure we don’t stereotype or judge others. Treat them as equals.”