logo

Speeches, marches honor Martin Luther King Jr.

The presentation of the flags of the nations is performed before the start of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. holiday commemorative service at Ebenezer Baptist Church Monday, Jan. 20, 2014, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Jason Getz)

The presentation of the flags of the nations is performed before the start of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. holiday commemorative service at Ebenezer Baptist Church Monday, Jan. 20, 2014, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Jason Getz)

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio speaks at a tribute to Martin Luther King, Jr. in the Brooklyn borough of New York, Monday, Jan. 20, 2014. De Blasio told a packed audience Monday at the Brooklyn Academy of Music that the “price of inequality has deepened.” The mayor says economic inequality is closing doors for hard-working people in the city and around the country. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

Vice President Joe Biden delivers the keynote address at the National Action Network’s (NAN) Annual King Day breakfast convened by the Rev. Al Sharpton, right, in Washington, Monday, Jan. 20, 2014. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

Spectators hold programs with photos of the late Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. during the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. holiday commemorative service at Ebenezer Baptist Church Monday, Jan. 20, 2014, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Jason Getz)

Bernice King, second from right, talks with pastor Raphael Warnock, second from left, during the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. holiday commemorative service at Ebenezer Baptist Church Monday, Jan. 20, 2014, in Atlanta. Bernice King is the daughter of the late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and Christine King Farris, right, is the only living sibling of the late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.. Also pictured is Atlanta mayor Kasim Reed, left. (AP Photo/Jason Getz)

Buy AP Photo Reprints

ATLANTA (AP) — Hundreds of people filled Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta on Monday to remember and reflect on the legacy of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., one of many events across the nation to honor the slain civil rights leader.

The service at Ebenezer featured prayers, songs, music and speakers. Across the country, there were also speeches, parades, marches and community service projects to honor King, an Atlanta native.

About 50 years ago today, King had just appeared on the cover of Time magazine as its Man of the Year, and the nation was on the cusp of passing the Civil Rights Act of 1964. But many of the themes of the civil rights struggle, such a as poverty, violence and voting rights, still resonate with people.

Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal said there were not many states that can boast a native son that merits a national holiday before saying, “but we Georgians can.”

Deal said this year he would work with state legislators to find an appropriate way to honor the Nobel Peace Prize winner at the Georgia Capitol, which drew a standing ovation from the audience. He did not give any specifics, but civil rights leaders have suggested a statue at the state Capitol.

“I think that more than just saying kind thoughts about him we ought to take action ourselves,” said Deal, a Republican. “That’s how we embed truth into our words. I think it’s time for Georgia’s leaders to follow in Dr. King’s footsteps and take action, too.”

Deal also touched on criminal justice reforms his administration has tried to make, including drug and mental health courts and community-based services to keep non-violent criminals and young people out of prison.

Vice President Joe Biden addressed the National Action Network’s MLK Breakfast, urging them to protect voting rights.

“Let me remind you all, it all rests ultimately on the ballot box, so keep the faith, or as my grandmom would say, ‘No, Joey, go spread the faith.’ It’s time to spread it,” Biden said.

New York City’s new Mayor Bill de Blasio marked the day by talking about economic inequality, saying it was “closing doors for hard-working people in this city and all over this country.”

“We have a city sadly divided between those with opportunity, with the means to fully partake of that opportunity, and those whose dreams of a better life are being deferred again and again,” he told an audience at the Brooklyn Academy of Music.

In Ann Arbor, Mich., activist and entertainer Harry Belafonte planned to deliver the keynote address for the 28th annual Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. Symposium at the University of Michigan’s Hill Auditorium.

Arthur Goff, 38, of Frederick, Md., visited the King Memorial in Washington with his mother, his son, his sister and her children.

Goff’s mother, 68-year-old Loretta Goff, said she was in nursing school in New York when King died in 1968 and remembers it being a traumatic time. Now, she said, everyone is responsible for continuing King’s legacy.

“There is still so much more to do,” she said.

In Memphis, Tenn., where King was assassinated, an audio recording of an interview with King was played at the National Civil Rights Museum. The recording sheds new light on a phone call President John F. Kennedy made to King’s wife more than 50 years ago.

Historians generally agree Kennedy’s phone call to Coretta Scott King expressing concern over her husband’s arrest in October 1960 — and Robert Kennedy’s work behind the scenes to get King released — helped JFK win the White House.

The reel-to-reel audiotape was discovered by a man cleaning out his father’s attic. The father, an insurance salesman, had interviewed King for a book he was writing, but never completed it and stored the recording with other interviews he’d done.

At the Muhammad Ali Center in Louisville, Ky., the centered showed King’s “I Have a Dream” speech on the hour. In August, tens of thousands of Americans visited the National Mall to mark the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington and King’s “I Have a Dream” speech, which he gave from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.

Several people who were scheduled to speak at that event but were cut because there was not enough time were invited to speak at Ebenezer.

King was born Jan. 15, 1929, and he would’ve been 85 years old. The federal holiday is the third Monday in January and has been celebrated since 1986.

Associated Press


Comments

WGGB encourages readers to share their thoughts and engage in healthy dialogue about the issues. Comments containing personal attacks, profanity, offensive language or advertising will be removed. Please use the report comment function for any posts you feel should be reviewed. Thank you.
blog comments powered by Disqus