ABILENE, Texas – The longtime tradition of marching across the Martin Luther King, Jr. Bridge near downtown on MLK day continued in a different fashion this year, as a local nonprofit organized a parade to keep participants COVID safe.
“Let Us Breathe” organized the parade of decorated cars Monday, meeting first at the Abilene Convention Center, then driving over MLK bridge and stopping at Stevenson Park. Shawnte Fleming with the nonprofit says she was very pleased with the great turnout.
“We’re overwhelmed with joy for how this turned out,” said Fleming.
Once at Stevenson Park, local leaders shared words of inspiration. Pastor Matthew Lubin called on biblical teachings during his time at the podium.
“The creator only created one race, the human race. So, if there really is only one race then no one person or groups of persons is more or less valuable,” said Pastor Lubin.
Mayor Anthony Williams and Abilene Police Chief Marcus Dudley also spoke to the crowd. The men encouraged residents to be aware of the positive changes they can influence in the city, and promised to cultivate those changes as well.
“If we are going to realize the dream of Dr. King we have to do more than just talk about it, we have to be about it,” said Mayor Williams.
“We can’t police alone. We have to work together. Police and community,” said Chief Dudley.
The impact of the national spotlight put on police and the black community in 2020 was clear to see at Monday’s celebration as numerous cars and shirts spelled out the familiar words “Black Lives Matter”.
As conversations on last year’s racial unrest are still on many minds in the new year, Fleming says folks should keep Dr. King’s teachings in mind as the fight for equality has still yet to be won.
“Dr. King sacrificed himself to speak and give us a voice when we didn’t have one. We just want to keep that going,” said Fleming.