Raleigh, N.C. — Almost 44 years after he was killed on the balcony of a hotel in Memphis, Tenn., the legacy of civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. continues to grow.
That legacy was celebrated across the Triangle, state and country Monday with numerous events remembering the slain leader.
Locally, an interfaith breakfast, march, several service projects and a musical celebration highlighted the chances people had to remember King.
The national holiday began with the 32nd Annual Martin Luther King Triangle Interfaith Breakfast at the Sheraton Imperial Hotel, at 4700 Emperor Blvd. in Durham. For the past 26 years, Capitol Broadcasting Company has served as the leading sponsor for the breakfast.
The breakfast featured Enloe High School sophomore Adrian Bullock, who delivered King's "I Have a Dream" speech, and keynote speaker Cynthia Marshall, North Carolina president of AT&T.
"The man who we honor today could have invented the tag line of 'Rethink possible.' We cannot even begin to talk about how many mission impossible moments he endured," she said.
The 32nd Annual Martin Luther King Memorial March began at 10 a.m. on the grounds of the State Capitol and departed through downtown Raleigh with hundreds of marchers. The theme for this year’s march was “From the Dream to Reality…Economic & Social Equality…More Work to be Done.”
"I know I wouldn't have been able to be in the position I am in life if people had not marched, had people not been beaten, had people not died," said marcher Victoria Green-Epps. "We need to love everybody."
Marcher Clayton Harry said he believes King's legacy "is for all of us to be together as one people, unity."
Donna Darnell said his legacy extends beyond race, "also to gays, women's rights, people who are handicapped. He's made a real difference for all of them."
Following the march, the 32nd Annual Martin Luther King Noon Ecumenical Observance was held at the Progress Energy Center for the Performing Arts, at 2 E. South St. in Raleigh. The Rev. Nelson Johnson, executive director of the Community Development Center in Goldsboro, delivered a message.
The day of celebration concluded at 5:30 p.m. with the 32nd Annual Martin Luther King Evening Musical Celebration, also at the center for the performing arts. Ernest Pugh headlined the performances.
Throughout the day, more than 2,000 volunteers from throughout the Triangle participated in more than 30 community service projects in cooperation with the Triangle United Way, such as making cards for troops overseas and putting together hygiene kits for the homeless.
"I think it's really important that we all come together and try and establish that we're all on this earth together, and we all need to learn to get along together," said volunteer Emery Curtis.
"We all feel very involved, and we feel very uplifted that we get to help other people in need," said volunteer Austin Miles.
In October, Triangle residents young and old were among thousands of people who gathered on the National Mall for the dedication of the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial. The sculpture of King with his arms crossed appears to emerge from a stone extracted from a mountain. Carved by Chinese artist Lei Yixin, the statue design was inspired by a line from the famous “I Have a Dream” speech in 1963.
The Raleigh Martin Luther King Committee, a group integral in the planning of Triangle ceremonies honoring King, organized the visit to Washington D.C.