ASHLAND, Ore. -- Southern Oregon honored the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in a unique way as Monday marked Ashland’s 30th Dr. King celebration. Organizers and performers said an event as big and important as Monday’s requires months of preparations. Scenic Middle School even started preparing for today's performance at the start of the school year. The group practiced for nearly six months for the opportunity to sing a three song medley for hundreds of people sitting in the audience celebrating Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
"We even got to learn what the songs were last year so we could look at them over the summer," said Scenic Middle School 7th Grader, Erin Bechtold.
The organizing committee also got a jump start on preparations too. They started meeting every week since October to put the hour and a half long show together full of performances and speeches. Organizers said for 30 years this celebration continues to bring people in from across Jackson County.
"We're really excited that the community continues to come out and make it what it will be," said Organizing Committee Member Marjorie Trueblood-Gamble.
This year’s theme was 'The Fierce Urgency of Now, Tomorrow is Today.’ It’s a quote from Dr. King that organizers, performers and the keynote speaker said is equally important today as it was when it was first spoken decades ago.
"It means that we need to do things now to stop them from happening later," said Scenic Middle School 7th Grader Natalie Lindbloom.
One of the messages spread throughout the celebration was to remember history and the fight for civil rights. Dr. Roy Saigo was the keynote speaker. His speech outlined his experiences as a Japanese- American imprisoned in an Internment Camp in Arizona during World War II. He said it's important to remember and talk about those difficult times.
"We have a tendency to forget history, Not only to celebrate but to understand the difficulties that Dr. King and the population had to go through. We forget and we need to have us come back and review what happened in the past that many of our forbearers went through many difficult times. And having been incarcerated with me and my family that has to be remembered and discussed," Dr. Saigo said.
Trueblood-Gamble said this is exactly why Ashland has put on such a big celebration for 30 years.
"I think that there are still a lot of lessons that we could still learn from that Dr. King preached about. So taking a day to commemorate his legacy as well as the other people who fought for civil rights and continue to fight for civil and human rights today, is important."
Monday's celebration ended with everyone marking from the Armory down and down to the Plaza to hear Dr. King's famous "I Have A Dream" speech.
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