Proving to be more than just a day off from school and work, the celebration of the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s holiday serves as a representation of how one man’s legacy for peace and justice carries on.

Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration Committee, which spearheads the annual commemoration in Freeport and Brazoria County hosted a parade filled with floats, cars and residents honoring King’s work and his life. The civil rights leader’s legacy goes beyond the Black community by creating awareness for all races who fight for basic human rights.

“We live in a world right now where there is not a lot of peace. People are against each other because of who you are as an individual, what you believe in, your politics, your religion, sexism,” said Lois Davis, the MLKCC’s public relations chairwoman.

Known for being a drum major for peace, King’s famous “I Have a Dream speech” was played from big speakers underneath the pavilion at the Freeport Municipal Park at the festival that followed the parade.

As festival and parade-goers enjoyed the fair-like atmosphere, many were eager to share their own experiences with equality.

Turkey leg vendor Buddy Hodge recalls times in his youth when segregation was ongoing and the Black community lacked equal rights to even own a business, unlike in today’s age, he said.

“The positive thing about this event is to create awareness of MLK and what he did that gives us a chance to do some of the stuff that we can do today,” Hodge said. “I’m 78 years old. … I’ve been around a long time before integration. I went through segregation during the time that Martin Luther King was marching and trying to get some of these things changed. I went to a predominant Black school here in Freeport … it’s good that we made progress and we still need more.”

Regardless of whether the day is nationally celebrated, co-owner of Brazos Soap Supply Brandon McDaniel said his family would get together and attend any festivities that were around at that time.

“For us as a Black business, without people like MLK, we wouldn’t be able to do what we’re doing now,” McDaniel said. “People should come to gain knowledge, fellowship and congregate with the community. MLK day was definitely a holiday for us growing up. It was like Juneteenth … It taught me what’s worth having is worth fighting for. You might go through some hardships trying to get there, but eventually if you work hard enough you’ll get there.”

Parents including Terrell Lee who is the athletic coordinator at Clute Intermediate School, brought their children out for the day to learn about King’s message in efforts to share a history so that his work was not done in vain, he said.

“I have a mixed family and I have to educate my kids to understand both sides of their culture…to understand and respect how we got here as African Americans,” Lee said. “We didn’t get here through the violent way. We got here because MLK did it in a peaceful way and he’s the one that got us where we are…Even the speech that we hear today talking about his dream — that white kids and black kids would hold hands — and look where we are here today with interracial marriages and stuff. That dream came true.”

Valery Rodriguez is a reporter for The Facts. Contact her at 979-237-0152.

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