RALEIGH, N.C. — An annual observance by North Carolina state employees Friday marked the beginning of a long weekend celebrating the life of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.
Gov. Pat McCrory was the featured speaker Friday at the midday event at a downtown Raleigh church. He reminded the crowd that King would support those who are unemployed and homeless.
"I believe our state, what we can do, is we have to make sure there's opportunity for everyone who studies hard, who works hard, and lives a life of high values," the governor told those in attendance.
"Then they can fulfill their potential. But we have to help them do it and give them the necessary tools to make it happen. And I think that is what Dr. King would be saying today too."
At Wake Tech Friday, students and faculty worked to package meals for the hungry. In about 90 minutes, they packed 10,000 meals made up of rice, soy and dehydrated vegetables to send to Stop Hunger Now.
"It makes me feel good, you know," said student Noah Boyd.
He was participating for the first time, but others had made it an annual event.
Florence Thompson conceived of the idea four years ago. "It's a way of giving back, and paying it forward, supporting children around the world to have food to eat," she said.
"We could end world hunger and how great would that be."
MLK holiday is Monday
King's federal holiday is Monday, and many more events are planned to honor his life and legacy in coming days.
The United Way of the Triangle organizes one of the Triangle's largest celebrations, the annual MLK Day of Service. Hundreds of volunteers across four counties will participate in projects that range from making baby blankets to CPR training.
The annual Martin Luther King Triangle Interfaith Breakfast, Monday at the Imperial Hotel in Research Triangle Park, is also a big draw. Rev. Dr. Ronald Smith, president of the Southern Union Conference of the Seventh Day Adventist Church, will be the keynote speaker. McCrory is also on the agenda.
WRAL.com will offer live video of the speakers Monday beginning at 7 a.m.