TYLER, Texas (KLTV) - Hundreds of people gathered in downtown Tyler Monday on a cold, blustery morning for the annual Martin Luther King Day march to commemorate the civil rights leader's life and legacy.
Many of the marchers carried signs. Representatives of numerous community organizations attended the march, which also featured bands from the John Tyler and Tyler Lee high schools and Grace Community School.
In Nacogdoches, the annual event brought churches, individuals, and organizations together. The Nacogdoches event is sponsored by the NAACP’s Nacogdoches Chapter.
On Monday morning, members of the community gathered at a park for a prayer rally. Rev. Donald Lacy, the pastor of Nacogdoches’ Zion Hill Baptist church led the prayer.
“Dear God, we are praying for the government of America," Lacy prayed. “And, yes, dear Lord, even your word says we have to pray for the leaders, the president, the government of the United States of America. And, yes, dear God, we still have to pray for the President of the United States, Donald Trump.”
After the prayer rally, the participants in the Nacogdoches MLK event marched down Main Street to the Nacogdoches County Courthouse, where more speeches were planned. Traditionally, participants at the Nacogdoches event spend the rest of the day remembering Dr. Martin Luther King’s life.
The annual Martin Luther King Day event is still going on in Winnsboro. A group called HYPE is putting on its 20th MLK celebration at the Winnsboro Civic Center.
The event, which concludes at 2 p.m. today, includes a free BBQ lunch and live music/talent from local artists.
East Texas News’ Jeff Chavez spoke to the Duffey family, who founded the event 20 years ago.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., a vital leader in America’s Civil Rights Movement, was assassinated in 1968.
The federal holiday is observed annually on the third Monday of January, which is the Monday closest to his January 15 birthday.
In 1983, President Ronald Reagan signed Martin Luther King Jr. Day into law as an official holiday. It was first observed in 1986.
There are several other events planned all across East Texas to celebrate this important American civil rights leader.
Martin Luther King Jr. Day March: Monday, January 20, at 11:30 a.m. at Norman Activity Center (526 E. Commerce St), and continues to Sweet Union Baptist Church concluding with a special service. (Participants are encouraged to line up by 11:15 a.m.)
MLK Day Celebration 2020: Monday, January 20, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The celebration march will begin at the Martin Luther King Community Building (1003 Martin Luther King St) and end at the Texan Theater (201 South Kilgore St).
Annual Martin Luther King Community Celebration and Parade: Saturday, January 18, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. The route will begin on Ryder Drive and end at Broughton Recreation Center (801 S Martin Luther King Jr Blvd). After the Parade ends there will be activities, entertainment, and food vendors available.
Martin Luther King March: Monday, January 20, 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Meet at Federal US District Court Bldg (104 N Third St) at 11:30 a.m. march begins promptly at 12 p.m.
Dr. Martin Luther King Celebration: Tuesday, January 21, 12 p.m. Parade begins at Historic Harrison County Courthouse (1 Peter Whetstone Square) and ends at the Marshall Convention Center (2501 East End Blvd South). There will be a talent show after the parade held at the Convention Center auditorium. Free. A banquet follows the celebration, $25.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration: Monday, January 20, from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. A march will begin at the Square in downtown Tyler ending at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception (423 S Broadway Ave). There will be a program starting at 10 a.m. followed by a free soup supper.
The 2nd Annual East Texas MLK Spoken-word Slam & Open Mic: Sunday, January 19, 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. The Foundry Coffee House (202 S. Broadway Ave).
20th Annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration: Monday, January 20, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Winnsboro Civic Center (900 Wheeler Dr.). There will be live music and talent from local artists. Free barbeque lunch.