The 33rd MLK Day celebration in Tyler once again began with meeting at the Downtown Square and marching to the Immaculate Conception Catholic Cathedral at Broadway AV & Front ST for a program with many speakers. At the Square, someone quoted MLK with, “No individual or nation can live alone. We can live together as brothers or die together as fools. Someone carried a cool sign with the following MLK quote, “We may have come in on different ships, but we’re in the same boat now.” The sound system wasn’t working downtown, so that part of the program was cut short, and the crowd marched down Broadway Avenue—Tyler’s major street—to the cathedral. There were at least a couple of drum corps marching with us: Texas College and Grace Community HS.
In the introduction, the speaker noted that scientific progress has made the world a neighborhood. Once again, someone asserted that a person or nation can’t live alone. That reminded of the current American president’s desire to withdraw from NATO—a military alliance between the USA & Western Europe since 1945 for protection versus Russia, formerly the Soviet Union.
Somebody wore a cool T-shirt declaring, “Rosa sat so Martin could walk. Martin walked so Obama could run. Obama ran, so our children could fly.” #LegacyMatters.
Joanne Hampton began by noting that we need to be mindful of our giving. Lift each other up by being aware. Local business success promotes sustainability. Yet we can stimulate global culture.
Mayor Martin Heines asked, “What are we doing for others?” Service to one another strengthens the community. To build a more perfect union, we all have a role through building with our service. This leads to more abundant opportunities for our children.
Next were four charming little kids with “Kids Aspiring to Dream (KATD) with their theatrical performance, culminating with Jonathan Martin’s dramatic soliloquy. The theme was “The Dream Lives on “It is Me.”
George Faber played, “Take the A Train (1941)” before a statement highlighting the term, “propel.” Through our roles in life, we encourage and propel equality by coming together often. Sometimes we don’t have the answers. We encourage our kids; something will propel them too.
The Keynote Speaker was Peggy Llewellyn, a History-Making NHRA Pro Stock Motorcyclist. She was the first minority woman to win an NHRA event. The speaker’s mom rode motorcycles too, and her dad was a motorcycle and car mechanic. Ms. Llewellyn likes to research new cities that she visits—noting that Tyler is the Rose City and home of actress Sandy Duncan, Keke Shepherd, and the HGTV Dream House.
Ms. Llewellyn’s Dad is Jamaican and he moved here in 1967—just three years after the Civil Rights Act. Racial tension was still strong. She noted that her family could have played it safe for Jamaica is a beautiful island with great cuisine. Nevertheless, the USA is a land of opportunity—in spite of struggles with racism. They settled in San Antonio, Texas. By 1977, her dad owned his own business. Nevertheless, some customers wouldn’t deal with him when they found him to be Black. Other customers wanted him to succeed, for they lived together as brothers.
Young Peggy didn’t grow up with dolls; she raced her brother on motorcycles. She liked the smell of burning rubber and reached speeds of 190 mph. They raced at Alamo Dragway. Color was not a measuring tool for herself. Novelty was something different for the team.
Sometimes her ability was questioned because she’s small, Black, and Jamaican. Ms. Llewellyn was determined to look past the negativity and going to race and win. We should love one another regardless of race or religion. Hate is too much burden; love is actually simpler, according to Ms. Llewellyn. Recall that saying, “Love covers a multitude of sins.” Have faith so we work together, play together, and struggle together. She quoted Deuteronomy 31:6, “Be strong of good courage. God goes with you and won’t leave or forsake you.” All we need is faith the size of a mustard seed. We must fight discrimination on basis of sex or whatever. In closing, Peggy’s Dad knew she had talent, and he prepared her for obstacles. Look past and above the negative. Love and respect helps one’s perspective. It’s a topic and attitude.
Here’s a photo of me at the MLK march; it was taken by Sarah Miller, the main photojournalist for the Tyler Paper. https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10107171117769518&set=pcb.10218140711931630&type=3&theater