DARLINGTON, S.C. (WBTW) — For 36 years, the city of Darlington has held an annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebration. That tradition continued Monday at the Trinity United Methodist Church.

Speakers included Mayor Curtis Boyd and Dr. Jermaine Ford, president of Florence-Darlington Technical College, and there was entertainment from Tequan Coe, Aneisa Green, Ricky Gardner and Drip & Friends.

Ford said Dr. King’s message of God and unity still rings true, even 54 years after his death.

“Our vision at Florence Darlington Tech is to transform diverse lives through excellence, innovation, and education,” Ford said.

King was born on Jan. 15, 1929, and died on April 4, 1968, in Memphis, Tennessee. After his death, MLK Day was made a federal holiday to mark his birthday. It is celebrated on the third Monday of January.

King, is known for the civil rights movement and equality dating back to the late 1950s. At Monday’s memorial event, pastors recalled conversations with the late icon.

“I asked this question ‘Are you concerned that your service and activism could result in your death as it did Abraham Lincoln in Ford Theatre?’ He looked at me and said, ‘If you have not discovered something you will die for, you are not fit to live,’ ” Pastor Eugene Thomas said.

Every speaker talked about unity, equality, justice for all and God.

“And it was that community that taught me that I was somebody, and it’s that same spirit of community that we want to actually continue to spread on and pass on that the community is what’s really important,” Ford said. “So that’s really in the spirit of Dr. King. Service.”