ABILENE, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) – More than 500 Abilenians marched across the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Bridge on Monday to honor his life and legacy.

Before the march, Mayor Anthony Williams and Police Chief Marcus Dudley commended the Abilene community for their continuous outpouring of love and support on MLK Day, but also honored the first four people to march in the Key City.

Claudie Royals was one of those four and started the march back in 1988.

His son, Michael T. Royals, said it was his father’s dream to see racial unity in the United States, but said he knew that began in his own backyard.

Now that his father has passed, Michael said it is his family’s calling to keep his dream alive.

However, that is no easy task. Claudie Royals faced racial hardships throughout his life, but a new challenge has hit his son Michael. As of last year, Michael T. Royals has had one leg amputated and is wheelchair bound.

“I’ve long said, I told my therapist, ‘I’ve got to get up and walk. I’ve got to get ready,’” Royals said. “But even if you go through journeys, just keep the faith. You know God is with you, and if you spread it, other people are going to see and it’s going to rub off.” 

Michael T. Royals took his first steps since before the amputation at the pre-march ceremonies to show anything is possible, no matter how hard life can get. He said he believed that is exactly the physical sign he needed to represent his father’s dream.

“You know, like Martin Luther King and my dad and all the many others, they don’t see what they’ve done,” Royals said. “They may have it in their heart and in their soul what’s possible. They knew it was possible, because that’s why they do it. They wouldn’t do it if they didn’t think it was possible. So, my family, we know that it’s possible.”

Royals said he’s grateful for the Abilene community’s support of the march, and with tears welling up in his eyes, said “Father, we’re doing it.”