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Summit Conference Among Weekend Events Honoring Dr. Martin Luther King

Posted January 14, 2000

— Are we living the dream that Dr. Martin Luther Jr. spoke of August 28, 1963 on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, in which he proclaimed that some day the nation would "rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed" -- that all men are created equal?

A group of community leaders gathered at the Raleigh Convention Center Saturday to talk about that dream -- improving race relations -- in North Carolina.

Organizers of the day-long summit conference wanted to foster communication and cooperation between different races and ethnic groups.

Though they believe race relations have improved since King's time, they say there is still work to be done.

"There are still young people who interact with one another and say hateful things -- they say things that are just toward their race," said Julia Burnette, who serves as a co-chair for the conference.

That is why organizers decided to also involve young people, by hosting a youth summit conference at the same time.

Moderators talked to children about King's legacy, and encouraged them not to judge people by the color of their skin -- a lesson eight-year-old Kiara Webb took to heart.

"They tell you it doesn't matter what color you are," Kiara said.

The adult program focused on crime, education and economic development, as well as North Carolina's growing Hispanic population.

"It's important for the future of North Carolina and to maintaining a high quality of life that we get people in here, get them educated as quickly as possible and have them be contributors to society and not a burden to society," said co-chair Ricardo Perez.

Other groups honored King's memory during a parade in Fayetteville Saturday. Student and civic groups carried posters of King, as well as signs promoting the civil rights movement.

At the Page-Walker Arts and History center in Cary, patrons were treated to various contemporary African artists and their work.

And early Saturday morning, people gathered at the Martin Luther King Memorial Gardens in Raleigh for a wreathlaying in King's honor.

The slain civil rights leader, killed in 1968, would have been 71 years old Saturday.

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