Wreath laying ceremony Friday kicks off weekend of MLK events

Josh Aguirre | Multimedia Journalist

By Megan Rule | Staff Writer

The Waco community is offering multiple ceremonies and events this coming weekend to honor Martin Luther King Jr. Day on Monday, starting with a wreath-laying ceremony today.

“This was what Dr. King envisioned, that all boys and girls of different colors and nationalities would walk together as one,” said Coque Gibson, event coordinator. “That’s what we need to do to have more peace and be more tolerant of each other.”

The wreath-laying ceremony will take place at noon today at Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Park at 300 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. The event will feature several guest speakers, including Baylor President Dr. Linda Livingstone and the First Gentleman Brad Livingstone. Gibson said this is the 28th annual wreath ceremony and everyone is encouraged to bring a wreath or flower to the memorial.

According to the Baylor Diversity and Inclusion website, there will also be a spaghetti lunch today, an MLK Day of Service Saturday, a peace march and NAACP wreath-laying ceremony and the annual candlelight vigil on Monday.

“We need more peace and we need to be able to depend on each other,” Gibson said. “All unique people can come together, and we can solve all kinds of problems if we walk together.”

Gibson said after visiting Graceland in 1989 and seeing the flowers and memorials out for Elvis Presley, the idea came to do this for Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. along with the candlelight vigil.

The second wreath-laying ceremony taking place Monday will be co-hosted by Baylor’s Nu Iota chapter of Zeta Phi Beta at the Suspension Bridge and Indian Spring Park. Victoria senior Tyra Porter, president and treasurer of the Nu Iota chapter, emphasized the importance of the events this weekend.

“I feel that it’s important for people to stop and reflect on how far we as a nation have come,” Porter said. “It also serves as a way to really reflect and realize that events that sparked the civil rights movement were only a few years ago and that there are people still alive that experiences first hand the shift in the nation. I think it helps put things into perspective and gives people an opportunity to celebrate growth within society as a whole.”

Gibson has been working with her husband ever since the first year to focus on pulling the community together. Gibson said she feels the suspension bridge symbolizes a split in the community. Recently, they wanted to get Baylor involved with the event. Gibson said Baylor got involved under former President Ken Starr, working to bring Baylor officials to the event and enhance total community participation.

“I feel that it’s important to keep African-American history alive and on the minds of the youth because we seldom hear about the achievements African-Americans have made in school, so this is a way to highlight them,” Porter said. “I feel like it helps bring inspiration to the youth in Waco that are minorities because they can see someone they can relate to doing such great things and making a huge difference on such a large scale.”

Gibson said the purpose of these events are to bring people of all colors together in Waco. After President Ronald Reagan made Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day a national holiday, the candlelight vigil started as a part of the holiday and the rest of the events followed to properly keep King’s dream alive.

“Please come out and give us your support even if it’s cold,” Gibson said. “It didn’t matter what the weather, Dr. King was fighting for us to have the right to vote and be as a whole and for us to be able to walk together so I just ask everyone to come out and do the same.”