A piece of Dr. Martin LutherKing Jr.’s dream was realized in events taking place in Denton on Mondaycommemorating the legacy of the slain civil rights leader.
Celebratory events kicked offwith boys and men of all backgrounds gathering at the MLK Jr. Recreation Centerfor the 14th annual Flag Football Classic, and students from the University ofNorth Texas joined people from the community in a celebratory march from UNTthrough Fred Moore Park to the recreation center.
The annual flag footballevent, for youths ages 6 to 20, is something that means a lot to the flagfootball classic’s organizer Harold Jackson and the youth participating. Theannual event is an example of King’s dream realized, he said.
“He dreamed about that andyou see it’s coming true,” Jackson said. “They’re all out here playing footballand enjoying themselves.”
Festivities continued all dayMonday with a reception honoring individuals for their community service hostedat the University of North Texas. Immediately following the reception, severalindividuals, mostly students, lined up for the commemorative march that beganat the university and traveled, with police escort, to Fred Moore Park.
At the park, the marchersjoined people from the community to complete the remaining half-mile or less tothe recreation center, where festivities concluded with a community dinner andprogram themed “Living the Dream through Words and Deeds.”
As marchers of all ages madetheir way down Wilson Street in Southeast Denton, some broke out into song, singing“We Shall Overcome” and “This Little Light of Mine.”
Among the marchers was theRev. C.D. Lockhart of St. John Baptist Church in Decatur who said he is the newpresident for the Denton Ministerial Alliance. He said he’s been attendingevents in Denton commemorating King’s legacy since they began. What keeps himcoming back year after year, he said, is keeping King’s dream alive.
“I would like to see it keepgrowing and more people get involved, and I hope and trust that one day we willbecome what his desire was for us to become,” Lockhart said.
Jackie Sasser said the marchcommemorating King is one of largest events hosted in Southeast Denton and onethat brings the community together.
Throughout the day, residentsechoed that they would like to see events in Denton celebrating King continueto grow, with more community involvement and parades like those hosted inDallas.
The Martin Luther King Jr.Day, a federal holiday, commemorates the legacy of the pastor who, until hisassassination in 1968, led a nonviolent movement seeking equality forAfrican-Americans in the United States.
At the recreation center,gospel music blared from speakers as the flag football games were played out.Families with young children gathered to cheer and applaud those participatingin the event, and while the middle division played, young girls rehearsedcheerleader routines to be performed later in the day.
Teams crowned champions atthe flag football event were the Longhorns in the Small Division (ages 6 to 9),the Martin Luther King Kings in the Middle Division (ages 10 to 13) and USC inthe Senior Division (ages 15 to 20), Jackson said.
Doreen Brice, who hasattended events celebrating King in Denton the last 17 years and who attendedMonday’s flag football game, said she enjoys how they bring people of variousbackgrounds together.
“It’s just growing and it’sso fun to see the young kids come out and participate in this event,” she said.“I would like to see it get bigger and better.”
Most people who were askedMonday what King meant to them said he represented freedom, the importance ofcaring for one another, coming together and treating everyone as equals.Residents said King also left examples and principles to live by.
Sasser said the example Kingleaves for her is one of leadership and one that teaches that “you’re eithergoing to stand for something or fall for anything.”
“Even if you’re standing byyourself, you have to stand for what is right, and that’s what [King] did,” shesaid.
BRITNEY TABOR can bereached at 940-566-6876 and via Twitter at @BritneyTabor.