WACO, Texas – Several events across the city commemorated Martin Luther King Day on Monday, including a march across the iconic Pedestrian Bridge and an event with a panel of speakers ranging from historians to pastors.
Each year, the Zeta Phi Beta sorority and Phi Beta Sigma fraternity hosts a “March for Peace and Observance” to commemorate the holiday.
“Dr. Martin Luther King had a vision that he wants to see all people come together and walk hand-in-hand, regardless of race, regardless of how they look on the outside, and this event symbolizes that,” says Phi Beta Sigma member Dominque Hill. “It is a representation of the dream Dr. Martin Luther King had.”
Members of national fraternities and sorority chapters walked alongside high school students and local residents. Walking across the bridge, they all sang “We shall overcome.”
“It means that we are perseverers (sic,)” says Hill. “It means there’s nothing that can hold us back. That if we put our minds to it, we can accomplish anything.”
Mission Waco also hosted an event to celebrate King at the Jubilee Theatre in East Waco. The speakers talked about King’s relationship to God and his fellow man as well as his love for the music that shaped his legacy.
One of the speakers, Malcolm Foley, is a preacher who has studied Waco’s checkered past with race relation – notably the 1916 public lynching of Jesse Washington in downtown Waco.
“It’s encouraging to see a number of people committed to thinking through what it means to be, to be people who fight for justice because we are reminded that this is a constant,” says Foley. “This is a constant battle, and we need everybody to be involved in it.”
While King may not have lived to see his dream come true, some believe he would love what he would see today.
“I think Dr. King would be excited about how far we’ve come as a nation,” says Hill. “I think Dr. King would have been excited about Waco and what we’re trying to accomplish here. Even though it’s only on one day, it’s symbolic of what we want to see in the City of Waco every day. And so, I think he’d be pretty excited about how far we’ve come.”
Each celebration admitted there is still work to be done in terms of race relations in the U.S. They also describe King’s lasting legacy as one of love and acceptance.