Follow CBSDFW.COM: Facebook | Twitter

DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – A half-century ago Martin Luther King Junior changed the world, but on this day that commemorates the United States civil rights leader there is also another ceremonious American milestone – the 50th anniversary of the U.S. Voting Rights Act.

Having lived through the time of American segregation, one Dallas restaurant owner can tell you exactly how far we’ve come.

Pointing inside a local landmark Bob Prikryl said, “This was an all-white area. Blacks lived on their side of the world, and we lived over here. That’s just sort of the way it was.”

Not much has changed in the old fashioned mom and pop East Dallas hamburger stand, The Dairy-Ette. From the cash register to the lunch counter, everything inside dates back to 1956.

“Most of the blacks would come to the back door,” Prikryl recalled. “That’s just basically the way it was.”

The way it was looks nothing like the way it is today inside Prikryl’s family-owned eatery.

(credit: CBSDFW.COM)

(credit: CBSDFW.COM)

It was Dr. Martin Luther King Junior’s monumental push, a pounding movement against separate and unequal treatment, a battle for Voting Rights and equal rights, that opened doors and changed something as simple as who can eat a hamburger.

Prikryl said things are, “Much improved. We’re not perfect, nothing ever will be, but yes, improved immensely.”

Fran Whitaker, 64, used this MLK Day to clear her flowerbed from the clutter of Fall. “I went to school down here… Spruce and Comstock.”

Busy out in the pleasant North Texas weather, she tended to her plants and flowers underneath the flag she flies to honor America’s drum major for justice.

There were few north Texans she knew in the 1960’s who would even sit next to someone of King’s color. “They would rather go someplace else,” Whitaker remembered. “It’s a shame. You’re human like we are, just a color is the only thing different, really.”

The kids inside the Dairy-Ette on MLK ay 2015 enjoyed a day free from school. They had no idea about the history of progress in those seats, started with King’s pushing and pounding.

(©2015 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)