On November 2, 1983, President Ronald Reagan signed a bill creating a federal holiday to honor Dr. Martin Luther King Junior.
Monday, hundreds of observers gathered in downtown Dothan to ensure Dr. King's message of unity and equality is still being heard.
We all know Dr. Martin Luther King Junior had a dream and many wiregrass citizens say it's up to us to keep that dream alive.
“Today is important because a man once had a vision that everyone in America, everyone in the world, no matter what their race, creed, or religion could walk hand in hand,” said Jemmie Watford, the organizer of the march.
Hundreds of wiregrass citizens marched through downtown to signify Dr. King’s fight for equal rights.
“In really remembering the physical struggle that king endured during that time,” added Watford.
“It means a lot to me because I led the first civil rights demonstration in the south in modern times here in Dothan in 1950,”
Ed Vaughn is the president of the state chapter of the NAACP and lived through the civil rights struggle.
“It was a very volatile period,” said Vaughn.
He also knew Dr. King, personally.
“Dr. King was a very honest person, he really loved people and he really believed in what he was trying to accomplish. Dr. King was just a wonderful, strong person who was not afraid to die because he believed and he loved the people so much,” he added.
Organizers say this holiday is about remembering the past…
“If you don't know where you came from it's hard to know where you're going,” said Watford.
And working toward a better future...
“I think we've come a long ways, there's no question about it. I noticed the change in Dothan. I was born and raised here. I’ve seen the change; I’ve seen how people have progressed,” said Vaughn.
Martin Luther King Junior Day was first observed on January 20, 1986.
The holiday is celebrated every 3rd Monday in January, near King's January 15th birthday.