Tyler man reflects on "I Have a Dream" speech - KLTV.com-Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville, Texas | ETX News

Tyler man reflects on "I Have a Dream" speech

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Ernest Deckard was 34 when he watched King’s “Dream” speech on television from his home in Tyler 50 years ago. Ernest Deckard was 34 when he watched King’s “Dream” speech on television from his home in Tyler 50 years ago.
TYLER, TX (KLTV) -

Wednesday marks the 50th Anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther Kings march on Washington. The political rally led some 200-300,000 people to the Lincoln Memorial where King delivered the historic speech, “I Have a Dream,” and Wednesday, thousands are expected to gather at that same spot.

Two memories stand out in Tyler resident Ernest Deckard’s mind.

“I was going to go down there and vote and they told me that if I didn’t get out from down there they were going to hang me up in a tree. That’s my first experience in politics and I told them you may have to do that, but I wasn’t afraid of it,” Deckard said.

Deckard was 34 when he watched King’s “Dream” speech on television from his home in Tyler 50 years ago. Today as we played it back, the second memory, that feeling of hope from so long ago, came back. 

“Well, that’s what inspired me and that’s what I was hearing that the change was going to come, people were going to get together.”

So he decided to spread King’s message across East Texas. In the 70's, he led the petition to have Lincoln Street, in Tyler, renamed Martin Luther King Boulevard. On August 21, 1979, the name was changed. He has seen more than just street names change since that speech.

“He was speaking to America, not to black folk, but to America. His dream was for America to speak for America, every American had the dream, that dream was for every American to have the opportunity, but no we’re not.”

There is still much more to be done, according to Deckard.

“Hatred was still in America, we haven’t overcome hatred, selfishness, individualist."

Though, we are far from that day Ernest Deckard was shamed for voting, he says the anniversary should act as a reminder of where we still have to go to make King’s dream come true.

Ernest Deckard is still an active member of the Tyler NAACP and says he plans to continue fighting for the word of Dr.King until he dies.

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