(WATE) — East Tennessee honored Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on MLK Day with parades, services, marches and more to celebrate and keep the dream alive and to show unity.
The parade in Knoxville kicked off at Chilhowee Park. Marchers made their way down Martin Luther King Junior avenue and ended on Harriet Tubman Street. The parade was followed by a memorial tribute service at Overcoming Believers Church.
Patricia Carson, a spectator, sharing with WATE 6 On Your Side why she attends the parade every year, having grown up in the area and remembering what it was like back before the civil rights movement.
“I was born in the 50s, so I got to experience some racial issues growing up,” Carson said. “We couldn’t go to the Bijou Theatre, couldn’t go to the Tennessee Theatre, until the 60s when Martin Luther King said, ‘Hey we’re not tolerating this anymore. We’re gonna be equal or we’re gonna be nothing.’ So it meant so much to me to see that, you know?”
Today, local leaders speak of not repeating the past.
“My message is together we stick, divided we’re stuck and if we don’t come together and struggle together then we are going to find ourselves committing the same mistakes that people committed 40 years ago because you are sent back if you don’t struggle to hold onto what you have,” said Rev Harold Middlebrook.
Several awards were also given at the service.
Other events honoring King’s legacy also happening in Oak Ridge, where The Atomic city Sportsmen’s Club celebrated King with a community breakfast Monday morning.
While the events honor King, the observance is also honoring those who are continuing his legacy with their work in the community.
“Martin Luther King, on top of being a great orator, he was a very compassionate, a very sensing individual and I want to take that compassion…to make this a better place for everybody,” said David Mosby, assistant secretary of the Atomic City Sportsmen’s Club.
The celebration started 32 years ago, before there was an official holiday, Martin Luther King Jr. Day. The breakfast started as a way to commemorate the memory of King and to reflect on ways to continue his legacy.
MLK Day in Sevierville saw a march through downtown that stepped off at First Baptist Church toward the Sevier County Courthouse.
The annual event serves as a reminder of the lessons Dr. King shared with the world.
“It’s about love, it’s about everybody getting along – the world would be a much better place if we all had that same mindset to where we’re loving each other no matter how we look, how we act,” said Monday Calloway with MLK Committee Sevierville.