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MLK Day celebration for all

Many of those who turned out Monday for a march in honor of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. weren’t born until long after the civil rights leader was assassinated in 1968.

Others had no trouble remembering what life was like before King and other leaders helped pass the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and other landmark civil rights legislation — they lived that part of history.

But it really didn’t matter because organizers made it clear that this was a celebration for all. Generations came together, and people from all walks of life participated.

Between 200 and 300 people took part in Monday’s event, marching from the American Legion Hall on Lakey Street to the Martin Luther King Jr. Recreation Center.

“This is a celebration for everyone — no matter color, no matter gender, no matter religious belief,” said Bobby Givens, director of the Martin Luther King Jr. Recreation Center. “That’s what Martin Luther King was for. That’s what this is about. Every day we should stand as one.”

Monday’s march was only one of several events held in Denton over the long weekend to honor the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and to celebrate his legacy and the accomplishments of those who followed.

On Saturday, a group of about 20 volunteers showed up to help clean Fred Moore Park. The event paid tribute to King’s commitment to service and encouraged locals to contribute to their community.

Turnout may have been light, but enthusiasm was high, and organizers called the event a success. Volunteers were already making suggestions for another event next year, said Denesha Factory, who proposed the idea to the Martin Luther King Jr. Recreation Center advisory board.

Factory told us she suggested the day of service because that’s what the observance in honor of Dr. King was intended to be, not a day of rest as we know it today.

We think the day of service was a great idea, and we encourage organizers to start planning to make next year’s event bigger and more extensive. We’d also like to encourage other community groups and individuals of all ages to plan now to take part.

Community service is one way that we all can contribute. It doesn’t matter if we’re young or old, weak or strong — there’s a job that each of us can do.

Alma Clark, a longtime member of the community and Saturday’s keynote speaker, put it this way:

“Our opportunity is now,” said Clark, who worked for 25 years at the University of North Texas. “Now is the time to sow the seeds of kindness and the seeds of service, volunteer … even if it’s just for an hour at your local school.”

As Denton City Council member Kevin Roden told us, bringing people together is what the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. would want, and MLK Day continues to be a good time to educate the public.

We agree, and we appreciate the efforts of all of those who helped plan and carry out the events.

Thanks for caring about your community.