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Triangle Celebrates Martin Luther King Jr. Day

Posted January 15, 2008
Updated January 13, 2012

— While many enjoyed a day off from work on the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday, many in the Triangle commemorated the legacy of the slain civil rights leader.

The Raleigh-Wake Martin Luther King Celebration Committee organized what has been recognized as one of the country's best and most diverse celebrations of King's birthday.

"It's very important for African-Americans, as well as Americans, to know where we have come from," David Prince, organizer of Raleigh's King Memorial March, said.

"America has changed since the years of Dr. King," Price added. "And due to his death, America has changed for the better."

King's most famous moment occurred when he lead the 1963 March on Washington and pronounced "I have a dream" on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. After leading the fight against segregation, King turned his attention to poverty issues and spoke out against the Vietnam War.

The Triangle's celebrations kicked off with an interfaith prayer breakfast in Durham. Chapel Hill Mayor Kevin Foy, Durham Mayor Bill Bell and Raleigh Mayor Charles Meeker attended. WRAL's parent company, Capitol Broadcasting, was a founding partner of the 27-year-old event.

With music and singing, the 27th annual Martin Luther King Memorial March came to the State Capitol building in downtown Raleigh.

Organizers said the presence of so many children learning about King's message was the event's most encouraging aspect.

"He tried to make life better for African-Americans and equal rights," said Charles Waller, a child who marched in the parade.

"I'm just elated to see so many young children here this morning. It's a real blessing," marcher Walter Dunn said. "That lets me feel like when I'm gone that somebody will be here to hold this banner high."

“There are people from every community out here. I mean, I've seen Latinos. I've seen people from Asian communities. It's just great to see all different people together for the same reason,” Dustin Bayard said.

The Latta House Foundation took part in the march and pushed for preserving the site of a former school house and orphanage that Rev. Morgan Latta established for freed slaves in the late 1800s. After fire destroyed most of the house a year ago, Raleigh city leaders planned to convert the site into a park, possibly with a memorial to Latta.

Inclement weather forced Durham's Martin Luther King Jr. Parade to be postponed until Feb. 2. The Southeast Tourism Society named the 6-year-old event one of the region's top 20 events in the winter of 2007.

Schools and government offices across the region were closed for King's holiday.

WRAL wants want to recognize individuals and organizations whose present-day contributions exemplify the legacy of past African-American leaders. Click here to submit your nomination.

Since he was assassinated at age 39 on April 4, 1968, while standing on a motel balcony in Memphis, Tenn., King has become a national icon. His legacy has been used by people all over the political spectrum, said Glenn McNair, associate professor of history at Kenyon College.

King has been part of the 2008 presidential race, in which Barack Obama could be the country's first black president. Obama has invoked King, and Sen. John Kerry endorsed Obama by saying, "Martin Luther King said that the time is always right to do what is right."

Not all the references have been received well. Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton came under fire when she was quoted as saying King's dream of racial equality was realized only when President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964.


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  • whatelseisnew Jan 21, 2008

    Does anyone know which month is Irish history month? I have looked through my calendar several times now. I can not seem to locate it? And what about Canadian history month, our friends to the north?

  • OrdinaryCitizen Jan 21, 2008

    Can't believe all the Hate messages today. The fight in America is not about race but greed.

  • Redneck_Bob Jan 21, 2008

    martin luther king jr was born Michael King, He died Michael King. Hed was a communist impostor. All he did for this country was stir up a lot of trouble that has continued long after he was killed. He did not believe in equal rights. All he wanted was better rights. AIN'T GONNA HAPPEN

  • denverbob234 Jan 21, 2008

    sorry about the typos in my last post.

  • denverbob234 Jan 21, 2008

    the story states that a large portion of the triangle participated int some kind os celebration which was going on today foe some reason. Yet the poll on the same web-site states that 95% did not do anything in relation to this celebration. Strange, seems WRAL is trying to create a celebration whch noone takes part in. I don't even know what they are speaking of. Who is this guy that we have a celebration, anyone know who he is?? Did he do anything special for the masses in this country? 95% of the people don't seem to think he is worth taking part in some celebration.

  • GodBless Jan 21, 2008

    IMHO - you're the one that started with the 'tude. All I'm saying is...If you are not going to celebrate a person's birthday on the date he/she was born...WHAT DIFFERENCE DOES IT MAKE???? January as opposed to February is no different than day 15 of a month as opposed to the 3rd Monday of a month. It is still not the man's birthday. Get a grip on your anger dear. MLK would not appreciate that.

  • denverbob234 Jan 21, 2008

    Who's Martin King?????

  • IMHO Jan 21, 2008

    GodBless, I will not continue responding until you step away from whatever it is that you are inhaling. You asked a question, I answered your question. I don't know what else to tell you, dear. January is the FIRST month of the year. February is the SECOND month of the year. Now, when you think you got that down, we'll move on to the days of the week. In my "dreams" I wouldn't have just wasted thse few moments trying to explain the calender to an adult. But, alas, twas just a dream, and here we are.

  • Rocknhorse Jan 21, 2008

    If people truly want to put "racism" in the past, ALL people need to begin taking responsibility for their actions. All people need to be held accountable for their actions. All people need to strive to be the best they can be, regardless of color and take actions against those who behave uncivilized regardless of color. We either need to celebrate ALL ethnicities or not celebrate any over another. If we must have Black History Month, then I propose we have Japanese History Month, Indian History Month, Spanish History Month, Caucasian History Month, Italian History Month, People with Disabilities History Month, Poverty History Month, HNWI (high net worth individual) History Month.....

    The constant push to separate/segregate keeps us apart. If we could just say, "I am American" and leave the hyphen out of it, wouldn't we ALL move forward easier?

  • GodBless Jan 21, 2008

    IMHO - 2 completely different weeks...DUH??? You got common sense? In your "dreams" honey!