The Rev. Walter Jones took a moment to compose himself. He’d received a request about half an hour earlier to head down to the Texas City African American Cultural Park and deliver a speech he’d given many times before.
Jones has been reciting Martin Luther’s King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech for more than 30 years but hadn’t performed the speech in two years, since before the coronavirus pandemic ravaged the country.
After composing himself, the words of King’s speech echoed through the surrounding neighborhoods.
It took him a week to memorize the speech, and decades later he’s still learning from it, he said.
Racism has changed from the time King gave the speech. The Civil Rights Act was passed a year after King first delivered the speech on the step of the Lincoln Memorial, but there are still injustices to address, Jones said.
“It’s more subtle than it was in the past,” he said.
On Monday and over the weekend, people around Galveston County took time out of their day to recognize King’s legacy and impact. Some, like Jones, were restarting traditions that were postponed because of the pandemic.
In Galveston, dozens of people gathered at St. Vincent’s House for its annual Martin Luther King Day prayer circle, its return this year looking different from past events. The prayer service was held outside, and people were asked to stay masked and socially distanced through the event.
Faith leaders from eight Galveston places of worship spoke at the event, delivering prayers for hope, healing, love, liberty and community.
Nor far from the St. Vincent’s House ceremony, Susan Syler and a group of church members from the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Galveston County used the holiday as day of volunteering to help paint a house on Avenue L.
“The most important question you can ask yourself is, ‘What have you done for others?,’” Syler said, paraphrasing a quote from King.
Earlier in the weekend, during Galveston’s annual King Parade on 29th Street — another event that was canceled in 2021 and returned this year — volunteering and being present was also on the mind of parade participants.
Hundreds of people showed up in blustery weather to restart the parade tradition. Among them was Frank Henderson, a Houston resident and the president of the Chevy Boys of Houston, a classic car club that was participating in the parade.
“When I was a kid, I was the one standing on the side looking for candy,” Henderson said. “Now, it’s an opportunity for me to give back and for them to see people that look like them in a positive light.”
John Wayne Ferguson: 409-683-5226; email@example.com or on Twitter