The Tyler community honored a vision of Martin Luther King Jr. on Monday – “Everyone can be great because everyone can serve.”
The quote inspired the theme for this year’s 36th annual Interfaith Community Program, remembering King as a community advocate who followed his dreams and made a change.
The service was held Monday at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, along with a march through downtown Tyler as attendees from across East Texas gathered to honor King’s legacy.
The event began with a march and continued inside the church for a community program which consisted of musical performances by choir members from Texas College and Tyler University, community awards and a motivational speech from Kimberly Lewis, CEO of Goodwill Industries of East Texas.
“We all have a role to play. Martin Luther King Jr. is not with us today, but his spirit and his legacy lives on with us, but don’t let him die,” Lewis said. “We’ve all been given abilities and things we can do, you don’t have to have a lot of money, a big crowd follows you because you can all be great because you can all serve.”
Along with the inspirational messages for service attendees, Lewis spoke about her own personal challenges and the racial injustice she has fought throughout her life.
Kenneth Cobb, president of the Tyler Together Race Relations Forum, coordinated the event and mentioned that it was important to have a keynote speaker like Lewis showcasing how people thrive after fighting struggles, especially at the grassroots level.
“We’re doing this because we want people to know that these are people like you who are struggling, who have struggled, who are fighting and who persist in going from where they were to where they are right now,” Cobb mentioned.
Knowing about King’s struggles and the challenges Lewis spoke about when she rose to the CEO position, Cobb said achieving success is like climbing a mountain.
“It might not be the top of the mountain, it might still be the crust of the mountain, but you take those things and you learn how to develop tools,” he said. “As you go up, the fight becomes even more difficult due to the atmosphere, the air and the lack of oxygen.”
Although there are struggles involved in trying to make a change, Cobb encourages community members to strive to serve.
“Every day you have to create something that keeps you going and that’s what Dr King has done and that’s what many others have done. Today we do this specifically to encourage people in our community, everyone can be great because everyone can serve,” he said.
Cobb also mentioned the positive impact of the annual event and thanked the City of Tyler for supporting the event.
“I did an interview earlier and the people of the town of Tyler want this event to happen. They understand that it’s educational, inspirational and something that allows them to hear what other people have lived,” Cobb said.
He also showed his gratitude to everyone who came to the event, especially for understanding the importance of supporting others’ dreams.
Cobb also issued an open invitation for residents to join the Tyler Together Race Relations forums by texting “I will” to number 31996.
“The whole point of it is to get people to be part of what we do, we don’t care who you are. We need diversity and fresh thinking about what we do at Tyler Together,” he said.