Followers draw parallels between MLK Day and presidential inauguration

NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) - Martin Luther King observances in Nacogdoches began with a prayer meeting. It started with the singing of the civil rights folk song,  'Keep Your Eyes On the Prize'. Observers believed what they sang. "It just means a lot," said Queen Handy. The woman dressed in a traditional African gown said, "And knowing that King had a dream and his dream has come true makes it so special."

They've seen Martin Luther King's dream followed by many, but pray the dream comes true through the work of President Elect Barack Obama. "Rosa sat, Martin marched, so Obama could run and we could fly," prayed Kyle Childress, pastor for Austin Heights Baptist Church. Childress is white. Organizers take pride that diversity is represented in this year's observance.

People of all races marched down Main Street. It brought memories back for David Bruton. He marched when Dr King was alive. "Martin Luther King says he's been to the mountain top. He had a dream. What he saw on the other side is coming true today." Anita Norman sings out as she takes great steps forward. She explains why. "Because what we're going to celebrate on tomorrow, combined with today is making it a momentous occasion."

The connection between King and Obama is central in followers' minds. "I really do think there is a spiritual connection somewhere and I can see it,"  believes Elma Upshaw.

"Change is coming," said Charlotte Stokes to all the gatherers after ending their march at the courthouse. In a rally, community leaders seize the moment to promote King's teaching of volunteerism. "Barack Obama, he's made this day a call to service," reminds Boris Caldwell. He's organizing a year of volunteer service.  "What we have now is a puzzle coming together, but there is a key piece right here," said Kent Willis, SFA Student Government Association president.  "There's a key piece in east Texas that we got to put in place," he tells the crowd.

After the rally, a volunteer recruitment fair gave people an opportunity to sign up for service projects. They'll be conducted all year long. Service agencies were on hand to answer questions about their cause.

And Martin Luther King was also celebrated in a rural community located in northern Nacogdoches County. The North Redland community always gets together on MLK Day. They have a march, service and lunch. The service group calls themselves North Redland Sistahs.   "It's always important for people to get together in the spirit of love," explained Patricia Veal.   "We feel as a community that we have hope now," added Maylene Neal.