Locals honor MLK Jr during the 37th annual celebration in Tyler.

In honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., locals gathered for the 37th annual celebration in downtown Tyler.

The annual event is hosted by the Tyler Together Race Relations Forum and this year’s theme was “Darkness Can’t Drive Darkness Out; only light can do that. Hatred cannot drive out hatred; only love can do that.”

The start of the celebration consisted of several prayers to demonstrate the unity of the event participants gathered in the square before heading to Broadway Avenue, where they marched to Tyler’s Immaculate Conception Cathedral for a speech.

Nicholas McGrew, president of the Tyler Together Race Relations Forum, said the march is an important part of the event and really brings the community together.

“The time has come for us to come together and the importance of this is that we remember in those days of Dr. King, they marched and gathered in peaceful protests and this is what we always want to do to remind us that through walking, march and unity – this is where our success lies in many ways,” he said.

Carolyn Davis, a Tylerite who has attended the march for the past three years, said she thinks the event is important, especially for King’s recognition.

Davis held up several posters and mentioned the importance of displaying various King quotes.

“Often people focus on the ‘I have a dream’ part. While it was an important part of Dr. King’s speech, Dr. King’s important speech, he has much more to say than “I have a dream,” Davis said.

Her posters featured quotes such as “It’s time to make the promises of democracy come true”; “The time has come to make justice a reality for all of God’s children”; “Black power is the cry of frustration for timid white moderates” and much more.

“It’s all very relevant today, all these things,” Davis said.

Also present at the march were Carlon Jackson and his daughters Kamora and Kai’Ale. They liked the march.

“We are just happy to be a part of this,” Jackson said, “and we hope to keep the country united.”

The marchers ended up in the cathedral for a special service. Participants enjoyed musical performances by the Texas College Choir, cheers from government officials such as Rep. Matt Schaefer (R-Tyler), Rep. Nathaniel Moran (R-Tyler), Smith County Judge Neil Franklin, and Tyler Mayor Don Warren, who talked about King’s trail.

This year’s keynote speaker was Ret. Air Force Major Beverly J. Russell, who spoke about King’s history and legacy.

“…Dr. King was an extraordinary person, and therefore this is a national holiday, a time when we pause to honor his memory. Who else had the vision of an America with an army of dedicated people capable of changing the course of our national history without firing a shot or punishing youth for violence?” Russell said.

McGrew said the importance of this event is to continue passing on King’s legacy to the next generation.

“…it is important that we never forget the dream and the sacrifice that Dr. King made, and it is important that the next generation continue to live and know the meaning of today,” he said.

He also hopes that those who attended the event were able to reflect on King’s history and remember what he and his family sacrificed to be able to serve and be equal in the world, McGrew added.

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