Temple’s NAACP Chapter in tandem with its community partners will be holding their annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day march and program Monday.
The march is set to start at 3 p.m. and will begin at A New Fellowship Church’s gym, 510 E. Ave. J, with a flag-raising ceremony led by Boy Scouts of America Unit 716.
Participants will march east on Avenue H to Macedonia Missionary Baptist Church, 511 S. 20th St. The nearly three-quarters of a mile march will conclude with the Rev. Willie E. Robertson speaking to marchers before Dr. George Harrison of Waco delivers a speech written by King.
Benny Walsh — Temple’s NAACP chapter president — said the theme for this year’s march and program is “2020 vision of love for another.”
“It is time to come together as a community with a new vision in 2020,” Walsh said. “We must have and show love for everyone. This was Dr. King’s dream. Come out and participate at this event and help our community … and turn the tides on hate.”
The Rev. Roscoe Harrison, 75, pastor of Eighth Street Baptist Church in Temple, said he has both witnessed and documented the turmoil surrounding the civil rights movement. Harrison said he believes these marches are commemorative for a reason.
“I think we need to all remember what he did for not only African-Americans but what he did for all humanity,” Harrison said. “Each year they remind us of the sacrifice he made and it’s especially essential for our young people.”
He noted there is a population within our nation’s younger generations who don’t know the full stories surrounding the sacrifices he made. Harrison, who met King one month before his assassination, alluded to his grandson who is in the fourth grade.
“If I don’t remind him and tell him the story of Martin Luther King Jr., he’ll never know who he was. ... I think that’s why it’s very important that we keep his life alive, because if it had not been for him, we wouldn’t have the opportunities that we have today.”
Harrison emphasized how King’s influence was spread not only within the areas he worked in the Deep South but all throughout the United States. He reflected on some of the opportunities King’s pursuit for equality granted him in his early 20s.
“I was 20 years old when the Civil Rights Bill of 1964 was signed … and that was a new day,” Harrison said. He was the first black reporter for the Temple Daily Telegram in 1966 and became the first black news broadcaster in Central Texas, working for KCEN-TV.
Harrison explained how when King was assassinated, sadness permeated throughout the civil rights movement — how people were worried the movement might have died with King. But Harrison expanded on King’s lasting legacy with the hope that citizens continue to uphold and carry through.
Although triumphs have been made within the civil rights movement, the Rev. Philemon Brown of Harker Heights Community Church stressed the divisiveness he believes still exists in the United States.
“As we approach the upcoming Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. holiday, we are reminded that there are still vestiges of the terrible America at work,” Brown said. “Dr. King reminds us that a threat to justice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”
Brown cited the Temple officer-involved shooting death of Michael Dean, 28, on Dec. 2.
“Now that we have this matter in the heart of our community, what are we going to do?” Brown said. “City officials should be demanding a response and remedy to this matter. What they have allowed through their actions is to further the divide … in the fabric of the community and country for years through unjustified police shootings.”
Billie Warner, a Temple resident and parishioner at Mount Zion Baptist Church, echoed Brown’s frustration.
“They’ve been happening for a long time and in a lot of different communities … there is no justice and liberty in situations like this,” Warner said.
Harrison said he hopes that individuals can begin utilizing their ingenuity and heart to unite the American people.
“I don’t know if we need another Dr. King, because I don’t think there will ever be another Dr. King,” Harrison said. “But we need somebody that will bring the country together, and that will inspire not only togetherness but simple humanity.”