Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration Shares “Fuller Story”

MLK Day Celebration
photo by Donna Vissman

Despite the bitter cold temperatures, First Missionary Baptist Church in downtown Franklin held its annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day Celebration and March with a theme of “Stone of Hope.”

The small church had every bench filled with extra chairs added to each row. Many who were unable to find a seat chose to stand along the wall as to not miss the service. An overflow area was opened where the service was live streamed.

Franklin community leaders came together to share the “fuller story” –  one that includes African Americans history in Franklin. Franklin Community Church Pastor Kevin Riggs began the service by sharing a Martin Luther King quote, “There comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular, but he must take it because conscience tells him it is right.”

Riggs continued by sharing the fuller story for downtown Franklin which includes the addition of four markers to Public Square.

Each marker will be placed by the steps leading up to the grassy area. With each marker, it will share a different story – Reconstruction throughout the Jim Crowe era, 1867 Riot, Courthouse & Market House, and more information about the Confederate Monument. There are also plans to add a statue of a United States Colored Troop solider to be placed in front of the historic courthouse in downtown Franklin.

“It’s the right thing to do.. it’s always been the right thing to do,” shared Eric Jacobson, CEO of Battle of Franklin Trust, “We walk in the steps of history each day whether we know it or not.”

After the service ended, a group marched from First Missionary Baptist Church to historic courthouse for remarks by Pastor Hewitt Sawyers from West Harpeth Primitive Baptist Church.

This marks the 15th year for the annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day Celebration in Franklin. The plan is for the markers and statue to be placed by 2020.

See our photos and video from the event below.