Thousands gathered in downtown Oklahoma City for the Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday Coalition’s 40th annual parade on Monday. This year’s theme is “Better Together.”

“It started off basically as an event for the black community. Since then, it has expanded. We try to include the entire community,” Willard Brown with the coalition said. “That’s what Dr. King was about. He was about equality; equal rights and he believed all men were brothers.”

“I hope they understand what it is,” parade goer Miles Lewis said. “Not just take for granted that we get out of school today or that they get off work today. Actually, build off it and capitalize.”

Sabrena Leroy with the Reach Forward Foundation is doing just that. The group works with middle and high school students across Oklahoma City.

“(Martin Luther King Jr.) has shaped my life in many ways,” she said. “Now, I get to help young people see what their ancestors have fought for. It has helped me personally to help young people become positive people in this world.”

Don Allen Wilson watched the parade from the corner of 6th and Walker in downtown Oklahoma City.  He moved to OKC in 1949, ahead of the civil rights movement of the ‘50s and ‘60s.

“I was in World War II and to come back home and see signs telling me colored only, then to come back here and see the great change,” Wilson said. “It’s been a great change. I’ve enjoyed the change. I’ve enjoyed the ride.”