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Abilene celebrates the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in a variety of ways

Sheridan Wood
Citizens from all over the Big Country participate in the 33rd annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day March over the Martin Luther King Jr. Bridge.

The Abilene Black Chamber of Commerce ushered in the town’s Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebrations with a community prayer breakfast. Hardin-Simmons University hosted the first annual prayer breakfast. Organizers say while many MLK day events focus on Doctor King’s activism, the breakfast is meant to serve as a way to remember his gospel preaching.

President of the Abilene Black Chamber of Commerce Dee Moore says the breakfast serves as a way for the community to begin the day in the unity of prayer, “What a befitting tribute to Dr. King that we begin the day, not just each event, but the day.”

Dee Moore, president of the Abilene Black Chamber of Commerce, addresses the MLK prayer breakfast hosted by HSU.

In the afternoon, hundreds of people from all over the Big Country gathered to walk in Abilene’s 33rd annual Martin Luther King Junior Day March. The annual event has grown significantly since it began in the early 1990s when only four people walked in the first march. This year, hundreds flooded Abilene’s Martin Luther King Junior Bridge on East Highway 80 to show their support for racial unity in the United States.

Before the march, Anthony Williams addressed the crowd for the last time as Abilene’s mayor, “Today is not just about remembering and honoring the legacy of Dr. King, but it’s about what is our response. Your presence here today sends a message that you care.”

Sheridan Wood
Abilene Mayor Anthony Williams addressed those gathered for the annual march across the Martin Luther King Jr. Bridge.

First-time participant David Earles says he was impressed by the number of people who attended the event, “It wasn’t one group of people, it was a combined people. It was just the dream that Martin Luther King was talking about. It was really cool to see that it’s not just a dream anymore, but a possible reality.”

Earles is the youth pastor at Broadview Baptist Church, and says it was important for him to show up to set an example for the youth he leads and mentors. He says seeing the support from people at the march makes him excited for the future.

The Black Chamber of Commerce ended the celebration with the 30th annual MLK Celebration Banquet at the Abilene Convention Center.

MLK Banquet Marcus Dudley.JPG
Katie Pantoja
Chief Marcus Dudley receiving the "Community Service of the Year" award.

The Black Abilene Chamber of Commerce awarded 3 awards for the night. Mayor Anthony Williams (who is not seeking reelection) received the "Ambassador of the Year" award and Police Chief Marcus Dudley received the "Community Service of the Year" award and Neomia Banks (State Farm, Neomia B Creations) was awarded the "Small Business of the Year" award.