SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Each year on the third Monday of January we observe Martin Luther King, Jr. Day and reflect on the work that still needs to be done for racial equality.

Monday Sioux Falls Mayor Paul TenHaken honored the civil rights leader by reading a proclamation.

“Whereas the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, dedicated his life to equality, social justice and opportunity for all,” Mayor Paul TenHaken said.

Standing in Van Eps Park in front of the statue of Dr. Martin Luther King, Junior, Mayor Paul TenHaken read a proclamation honoring the civil rights leader.

“Since this sculpture has been placed, Van Eps Park has become sort of a gathering point, when people want to peacefully protest on issues to make their voices heard, a lot of times this is the place where people come,” TenHaken said.

People also gathered at this same location 6 decades ago. Before becoming Van Eps Park there used to be a church on this land, a church that Dr. King visited Sioux Falls back in 1961.

“For him to visit Sioux Falls, probably close to 50,000 people in Sioux Falls, and to have that history is really something,” Williams said.

Porter Williams is the artist who sculpted the statue of Dr. King. He says there’s a reason behind the extended hand.

“The extended hand, when he got off the airplane in Sioux Falls Reverend Artie Hayes shook his hand,” Porter Williams said.

A picture of that handshake appeared in the newspaper the very next morning.

Inkka Beaudion serves on the African American History board. She read a message to the small gathering.

“Dr. King once said we are not makers of history we are made by history,” Beaudion said.

Beaudion says history will be made by the actions taken today.

The campaign for a federal holiday in King’s honor began soon after his assassination in 1968.

President Ronald Reagan signed the holiday into law in 1983, and it was first observed three years later on January 20, 1986.