CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) – As the nation celebrated Martin Luther King Jr. Day and his work in the Civil Rights Movement, one local pastor shared his experience working alongside the Civil Rights legend.

Reverend Ronald English was a pastor at the First Baptist Church in Charleston for 21 years. That is the same church that Dr. King gave a speech at in 1960, but that’s not the only connection the two have with one another.

Before moving to West Virginia, Rev. English said he grew up in Atlanta, Georgia, down the street from Dr. King and his family. For three years, he was the assistant pastor to Dr. King at Ebenezer Baptist church, and in 1963, he joined him in the March on Washington.

“You wore a tie to the March because it was like going to church, but it was like a church assembling in the street,” He said. That kind of dignity and purpose and the magnitude of the movement was what attracted us to participate in the March on Washington.”

He recounted the famous “I Have a Dream” speech saying the part that has become the tagline of Martin Luther King Day was unintended.

“He wouldn’t have done that dream speech if it wasn’t for the voice of a very close friend of his and a very well known gospel speaker, Mahalia Jackson,” He said. “She is the one that shouted and said, ‘Tell them about the dream, Martin. Tell them about the dream.'”

As Dr. King’s assistant pastor, Rev. English said he gave the prayer at his funeral.

“That was a very special moment,” he said. “It was a time of sadness and celebration, to see what it was getting ready to lead to as far as carrying on his work and not just his dream.”

Rev. English said he continues Dr. King’s Civil Rights work as the President of the Charleston National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). Moving forward, he said the “I Have a Dream” narrative needs to switch from the “Dream King” to the “Healing King.”

“You’ve got the need for the healing in the criminal justice system, the need for the healing in the education system, as it pertains to African Americans, and the need for the healing in the medical community as it pertains to African Americans,” he said. “So, that’s how the King narrative impacts the issues that we are dealing with now.”

Rev. English said to continue “The Dream” we must be awake to the realities of the world.