"Black men's rights were being denied. The world knew it. America knew it," said Evans, 45.
With the speech, King was telling people to wake up and recognize that until black people were free in America, America was not free, he said.
King's message needs to be kept alive, said Evans, one of more than 200 people treated to Mency's recitation during Hagerstown's annual community celebration in honor of the slain civil rights leader.
The free event, held at the Martin Luther King Community Center on North Avenue, was organized by the Memorial Recreation Center, the Martin Luther King Jr. Scholarship Committee and the Washington County National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.
As in past years, donations were solicited for the Martin Luther King Jr. Scholarship Fund.
Memorial Recreation Center has been organizing community programs to celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day for more than 10 years, said Director Ruth Monroe.
The event, intended to celebrate King's life and teach young people what he stood for, always has a spiritual tone and gospel music in honor of King's vocation as a minister, Monroe said.
Organizers decided to make this year's event heavier on music by inviting all the black churches in Hagerstown to send their choirs, she said.
More children took part in the event this year, which made Monroe happy.
"That's our future. We have to get them involved so they know what's going on," she said.
After years of thinking about attending, Thomas Horst said he was glad he finally made it to the event.
"Just to be a part of it, celebrate, remember, give respect. I feel comfortable being a part of it," said Horst, 51, of Hagerstown.