COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — Members of communities across central Ohio are coming together to celebrate the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. this Monday.

Events took place all across the city, including the return of Columbus’ premier ‘King Holiday’ celebration. “Dr. King stood for justice. His life was dedicated to justice for all mankind,” says Al Duncan. “He gave his life for justice, for that cause.”

For 38 years, central Ohioans have been breaking bread on the third Monday in January in honor of Dr. King. The celebration returns for the first time in three years, with those in attendance saying the annual breakfast in his name is a chance to not only preserve Dr. King’s legacy, but to sustain his dream.

“In March of 1968, I was discharged from the military, having served over in Germany for 18-months,” Duncan describes. “Then April 1968, his life was taken. So this is a commemoration of him and what he meant to me and our country and the world.”

More than 1,700 people filled the convention center on Monday. Many of them, like Duncan, with their own connection to Dr. King. “I actually used to stay in his dorm that he stayed at when he was at Morehouse College,” recalls Dewayne Shambley. “Also, Martin Luther King was an Alpha, I’m an Alpha as well. So, just here to support his legacy.”

Martin Luther King Jr. Day is a federally recognized holiday, but for Shambley, the ‘day off’ for many is a ‘day on’ for those furthering Dr. King’s vision. “When I was growing up, we had a Martin Luther King breakfast,” Shambley recollects. It’s just something I can do to help both support the cause, you know his legacy, but also giving back to the community.”

City Council President Shannon Hardin and Congresswoman Joyce Beatty were among those to speak at what is the largest event of its kind in the United States.

“We’ve been away from each other for three years, so it’s time to get back together to celebrate the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr,” says Rhonda Evans, the CEO of the Martin Luther King Jr. Breakfast. “The legacy of peace, everybody getting along, finding out what we have in common, educating our children. Just reminding ourselves of things we may have forgotten.”

And it’s through remembering and honoring the man. that Evans says we preserve Dr. King’s legacy and sustain his dream. “More important today than ever,” Evans encourages. “We do need non-violence in our communities, we need to learn how to get along. The easiest thing is find out what you have in common, and you’ll realize there’s no need for the violence.”

The Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Birthday Breakfast is just one of many events across central Ohio, honoring the legacy of Dr. King on Monday.