Knoxville parades, services honor Martin Luther King’s legacy

KNOXVILLE (WATE) –¬†Thousands of people across the country will pay homage Monday to Martin Luther King Jr., marking the 31st anniversary of the federal holiday honoring the slain civil rights leader.

In Knoxville, the annual parade marched from the Tabernacle Baptist Church on Martin Luther King Avenue to Greater Warner Tabernacle AME Zion Church in Burlington, where the Martin Luther King, Jr. Commission presented their annual memorial tribute service. Through music, prayers and speeches from church leaders, Dr. King’s legacy was remembered.

Many of the speakers showed how Dr. King’s work is still important today. Dr. Calvin Butts III, a reverend in New York City and one of the keynote speakers for the service spoke about Dr. King’s legacy.

“He went around the racist walls of America, if you will, seven times,” said Dr. Butts. “When the walls of racism, bigotry, and hatred, and racism came tumbling down. Who ran across the rubble? Just black people? Oh no… poor white people ran across the rubble… white women ran across the rubble… Latinos ran across the rubble… Jews ran across the rubble… We brought those walls down for everybody.”


Green McAdoo Cultural Center
Green McAdoo Cultural Center

For the 10th year, Green McAdoo Cultural Center in Clinton hosted their annual prayer breakfast. Until 1965, the center was a segregated elementary school for African American children.

As part of the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1954 ruling in Brown v. Board of Education, a federal judge ordered Clinton High School to desegregate. The cultural center follows desegregation of Clinton High School and tell the story of the “Clinton 12,” the first black students who braved threats of violence to attend Clinton High School in 1956, making it the first desegregated public high school in the South.

Martin Luther King Day Prayer Breakfast

During the breakfast, pastors led the group with special prayers. In addition to providing fellowship, the center’s president, Eugene Gallaher, also said Martin Luther King Day is a reminder about the constant fight for equality.

“I hope at the end of the day, we’re encouraged to continue the fight for equal justice, equal jobs, equal opportunities and most of all to learn how to love and talk to one another,” said Gallaher.

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