East Texans honor MLK Day for 25th year

The man who started the celebration is passing the torch this year

Monday, January 17, 2011 - 12:02pm

TYLER - The celebration that's now called the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Interfaith Community Rally & Program started 25 years ago in Tyler.

This year, the man who envisioned East Texans of all walks of life coming together to celebrate the life of Dr. King is passing the torch.

25 years ago, when most states began to observe MLK Day, Milton says nobody thought a rally in East Texas honoring Dr. King would work.

"Dr. King's dream was inclusive of blacks and whites, Jews and Catholics and there was nothing in the city of Tyler that was gonna cover that," Milton said.

So Milton and his church, the Greater New Pleasant Hill Missionary Baptist Church in Tyler started a yearly event that's grown over the years.

This year will be Milton's last year to organize the festivities.

"I believe that anything you organize and you start, if it can't live past you, it never should have been started in the first place," Milton said.

Monday morning at 9:30, East Texans will gather at the Tyler square to have a short rally, followed by a march down South Broadway to the Cathedral of Immaculate Conception, where the celebration will continue.

Milton says there will always be racial problems, but the Piney Woods has come a long way since he started the festivities all those years ago.

"It's not always looking back at those dark days and what happened. That was a dark time in our history and we should never forget that time in our history, but we should celebrate more of where we've come as opposed to where we were," Milton said.

Texas State Senator Kevin Eltife will be the keynote speaker at tomorrow's festivities.


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