Posted: Mon, January 16 2012 at 11:35 PM, Updated: Wed, January 18 2012 at 3:16 AM
It was a day of remembrance to honor Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who would have been 83 this year. And today on the holiday that marks his life millions, including one Ashland woman, are working to make sure his memory and legacy live on. NBC5's Laura Cavanaugh reports.
Hundreds gathered in Ashland on Monday to remember the late Martin Luther King, Jr.
"It all brought back my experience in the South in Washington and Selma," says Natalie Tyler.
It's an especially poignant day for Ashland resident, Natalie Tyler, who marched for peace and civil rights with Dr. King back in the 1960s.
"We marched three days, 12 miles a day. We marched six abreast with our arms linked to each other," she says.
Tyler says she grew up with prejudiced parents, but her interaction with Dr. King had a life-changing impact.
"His message was fight hate with love and war with peace."
A way of being that was tested in Selma in 1965.
"White people from Selma stood on a hill shouting obscenities and throwing rocks at our heads," she recalls.
Tyler befriended a white woman from Detroit on the Selma march.
"It was so dusty and dry. We hadn't had any water for a while. Two lovely young men came in a car. They had peace and justice armbands on. They asked if any of uswanted to go with them," she remembers vividly.
A young Tyler almost got in the car, but didn't. Her friend, Viola Louiso, went instead. She never saw Viola again.
"Ku Klux Klan had killed her because she was in car with some young black men," she says.
Tyler says even through that act of hate, Dr. king reaffirmed his philosophy of non-violence and love. She says it was that philosophy that has helped this country change in a profound way.
"We see interracial couples and there are more black people in colleges and more integrated neighborhoods. The world is changing and I think the greatest thing is that we have an African American President," she says, "I firmly believe without Dr. King, all this wouldn't have happened. I believe we would still have as much bigotry as we had then."