About 500 of the state's top leaders gathered Monday morning at the Hutton Hotel, honoring the work of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.
Nashville is said to be a city King particularly enjoyed, and some 45 years after the civil rights leader's death the community came together to honor the battle he led.
"Each year we attempt to bring somebody that has a certain connection to the civil rights era, and as time has passed we kind of reflect back on other people who have made first, and who continue to fight for civil rights," said organizer Stacey Garrett.
Memphis Mayor A.C. Wharton brought a message from his city, where King was assassinated in April, 1968.
"Here we are in a state and in a city in which a relatively short time ago, one would have never dreamed to see a crowd like this on Dr. King's Day," Wharton said.
But Nashville Mayor Karl Dean said the city still has a long way to go in improving education for all of its children.
Twenty-one percent of the students in the city's school are black, and the district ranks 49th in the nation based on ACT scores.
"In Nashville, we have a legacy. We have a history of handling our business. With all of that history, we can't seem to figure out how to give our kids the education they deserve," Dean said.
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