"We never thought we'd see this day come in our lifetime, so we're just proud, so proud of the young man," says Nelson Wilson, "and know this is for you young people to just pick up the torch and continue on."
Matthias Royals agrees, "I've been saying this is kind of our pre-inauguration ball for us, so being able to kind of come together, and celebrate this day of what America can be"
But, the Martin Luther King march in Abilene wasn't always this big. During the first year, there were only about fifteen participants; they attribute the astronomical growth to current events.
"It's great for all the young people," says Wilson, "it's great for the city, and for all the people to come together."
Together, they remembered the life and legacy of Dr. King and everything he fought for.
"Just a great sense of togetherness," says Royals, "a great sense of enjoying the rights and privileges that we wouldn't have if he and others didn't fight and die for."
It was a chance for a community to come together, regardless of race, gender, or creed to celebrate being free, and being an American.
Many participants said they will also attend the banquet at the Civic Center tonight.