Abilenians to pay tribute to Martin Luther King Jr. Monday

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ABILENE, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) – A group of Abilenians will honor Martin Luther King Jr. Monday and the years he spent fighting against racial injustice.

“They were taking beatings, they were getting their skulls fractured, ribs broken, they still got out every time and they did a march, they protested,” said Let Us Breathe President and event organizer Shawnte Fleming. “If they could do that then we can surely do it now, keeping his honor alive.”

Every year we are further removed from this moment by time and this year because of the pandemic, things will look even more different than they did in 1963.

“If we can’t march, then we’ll ride,” said Darla Mayes with Let Us Breathe.

Fleming and Mayes are working to continue the path across the MLK Jr. Bridge in Abilene on Monday, this time in their own cars.

“Everything was canceled [due to COVID],” said Fleming. “We were like, ‘We have to do something, we can’t just let this day go by.'”

Monday, dozens will turn the ignition and drive from the Abilene Convention Center to Stevenson Park separated by distance, not purpose.

“He stood for something that was bigger than just race. His dream and his vision was for black, brown, white, yellow, it didn’t matter, he wanted everyone to come together,” said Fleming.

Fleming says with the events 2020 brought, it’s more important than ever to come together.

“We want to promote unity, we want to promote community service, acts of service, good acts against others. Like, instead of everyone fighting, let’s do something to help, let’s try to build up,” said Fleming.

Things may look a lot different from that day in 1963, but Fleming and her team are hoping the values of Martin Luther King, Jr. will still uphold.

The parade will start at 1:30 Monday afternoon at the convention center.

Cars will then drive the route down Treadaway, over the MLK bridge ending at Stevenson Park.

Mayor Anthony Williams and Abilene Police Chief Marcus Dudley Jr. are expected to speak at the event.

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