Love, belief and unity were thematic at festivities for Conway’s 14th Annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Celebration, held Monday in locations throughout the city.


The event kicked off with a march from Conway City Hall to the Faulkner County Library. A large group of participants turned out for the march, described by event organizers as a way to encourage participation, not observation, on the 27th anniversary of the first national celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.


Following the march, members of the community gathered at the library to watch a live feed of inaugural ceremonies and to hear locals discuss Dr. King’s vision and share how his dream is alive today.


Among those in attendance were Conway Mayor Tab Townsell, Rep. Linda Tyler, Sen. Jason Rapert, Sen. Gilbert Baker and Rep. David Meeks.


The event commenced with the singing of The Star Spangled Banner by Alveretta Lynch. Lynch later led the audience in the singing of “Walk Together Children,” a spiritual “in keeping with what we want to accomplish,” she said.


Townsell welcomed guests and delivered a message on the importance of remembrance, acknowledging that though Dr. King’s vision laid the foundation for decades of change, there is still more to be done.


“We carry the same DNA ... for cruelty and greatness, for superiority and inferiority ... If we don’t remember that common humanness, we are liable to go back,” Townsell said.


“We are incrementally inching towards Dr. King’s dream of a colorblind society,” said Charles Simmons, pastor of The ROK Church.
Simmons told the crowd King was not just a person, he was a believer, and his faith “fueled the fire of what he was doing.”


“Believe that change is already here,” he said. “Things are turning around.”


Festivities including a step show continued throughout the afternoon at the Boys and Girls Club.


(Megan Reynolds is a staff writer and can be reached by phone at 501-505-1277 or by e-mail at megan.reynolds@thecabin.net. To comment on this story and others, visit www.thecabin.net.)