Ardmore recognized Martin Luther King Jr. Day with an annual parade, a series of speakers and voices united in song.
The parade kicked off at Central Park and ended at the HFV Wilson Community Center on Monday morning. Church groups, local businesses and nonprofits banded together to form the parade, with The Pride of Ardmore band providing music to march to.
Once the parade reached the community center, the crowd made their way inside for the rest of the planned program. T.C Varner, who taught at Ardmore City Schools for decades and is a fixture in the community, served as the keynote speaker.
“We all know the story and legacy of Dr. King, we know that he was a Baptist minister, a social activist until his death by assassination in 1968,” Varner said. “When he made his famous ‘I have a Dream’ speech, his dream was of bringing this nation together. Dr. King knew his dream was not going to be an easy task.”
Varner spoke about the history of slavery and civil rights, King’s legacy of peaceful protest and civil disobedience and the importance of working together as a community. He said that while some strides toward equality have been made, there’s still much to do.
“As I thought about this day and what I wanted to expound on, I thought about questions I wanted to ask you,” Varner said. “‘Where do we go from here?’ This is the question we ask year after year after year, because it ain’t over until it’s over.”
Before Varner addressed the crowd, the MLK Youth Mass Choir, a choir comprised of area churches’ youth choirs’ combined, performed “Hang On” and “I Can’t Live” for the audience.
Mayor Martin Dyer delivered a proclamation on behalf of the City of Ardmore, commemorating the event and the day.
“We are gathered here today to celebrate a great leader and humanitarian,” Dyer said. “His words and actions continue to inspire courage, humility and passion. Whereas Dr. King taught us that lasting achievement in life comes with sacrifice and service.”