KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — People across the United States honored the life and legacy of the great Dr. Martin Luther King Junior. There were several events across East Tennessee that recognized the impact he left on the world.

The Doctor Martin Luther King Junior Commemorative Commission in Knoxville rounded out their week-long celebration with a memorial tribute service at Overcoming Believers Church Monday.

The commission’s theme for this year’s celebration was “Moving on Toward Freedom, Justice, and Equality,” which was represented during this celebration through song, dance, and through inspirational messages from those who spoke during this service.

“They have unity in the mix of diversity,” Bishop Rudolph McKissick said at the podium.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. broke barriers during the Civil Rights Movement as he fought for his generations and the ones that came after.

“‘I Have a Dream’ switched the scene, it made people want to stand rather than flee,” 17-year-old Delaney Jackson said.

Jackson said she finds her courage through the words and actions of King. She along with her brother, Diondre, wrote their own speeches in honor of him.

“The theme this year was ‘Black Excellence: Inspire to Build an Empire,’ and I just wanted to show how we didn’t really have a solid foundation at first,” Delaney said. “That our foundation was very unsteady and that we didn’t really have one compared to others and how that kind of delayed our empire being built.”

Diondre said people like King inspire him to create a better future for his generation and the ones to come. He ended his speech by saying, “I personally aspire to build an empire where I’m a leader instead of a follower by bringing people up instead of down.”

However, there’s still work to be done. Keynote speaker Bishop Rudolph McKissick, spoke about more recent struggles in the Black community by mentioning names like Breonna Taylor and George Floyd.

“We talk at each other. Not to each other,” McKissick said. “The angst and the bitterness that’s being seen in our people is because nobody wants to talk our language.”

He explained that the community is still moving towards freedom, justice, and equality after all these years. 

“Pentecost says if the holly ghost falls we can all understand each other and learn to get along,” he said

The Knoxville MLK Commission is a nonprofit organization. If you would like to learn more about the commission, here.