Organizers for annual MLK Day Celebration in Oswego fight to keep Martin Luther King Jr’s memory alive

They believe his message is being forgotten

What used to be a grand program full of song, celebration and the town all coming together to honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr…is now but a dozen people.

“If we can get the young people out here to hear what we say, what we went through, I think they would understand more of what they’re trying to go through because they don’t teach it in school anymore” said featured speaker, Henry Gatewood.

Henry Gatewood is a Parsons native, and served in the US Army.

During one of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s marches in Washington DC, his unit was sent to control the crowds.

It is a memory he’ll never forget.

“In Washington DC, seeing two groups of people, I wouldn’t say they really hated each other I’m going to say one was trying to get equality and the other didn’t want them to have it, and it hurt.”

For the past 25 years, Oswego Kansas has honored the peaceful protest civil rights leader. It’s one of the oldest Martin Luther King celebrations in Southeast Kansas.

Since the passing of the organizer, Floyd Cavitt, it has lost the interest of many in the community.

But it’s not stopping the few from continuing to hold the event.

“It is an effort to try and unite, heal, keep an understanding alive and celebrate the life of Dr. King” said featured speaker, Tom Bringle.

The group fears Dr. Kings work is being forgotten by younger generations, something they hope their celebration can fix.

“For a long time I thought we were progressing, I don’t really know that we are and I think the message of Dr. King today is more important than it was originally if at least as important if not more” added Bringle.

A dream they are fighting to keep alive.

“I hope and I may never see it in my lifetime that my grand kids can even sit down with someone from a different country and come to an understanding by talking to each other instead of fighting each other.” Added Gatewood.


Those at the event paid tribute during the celebration to Cavitt as well.