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Triangle marks 85th birthday of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.

Posted January 20, 2014

— People across the Triangle, North Carolina and the U.S. paused Monday to honor and remember Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. on a holiday marking the slain civil rights leader's 85th birthday, which was Jan. 15.

Audio Slideshow - MLK Day of Service Audio slideshow: MLK Day of Service In downtown Raleigh, at least 1,000 people, such as Eula Davis, gathered for the annual Martin Luther King Memorial March and an ecumenical service for King.

"Ever since it happened, I said, you know, I'm living the dream, and I'm going to hold that banner up, no matter what," said Davis, who's observed King's birthday by marching every year since 1969. "I want his children to see he did not die in vain."

The group also included people marching for the first time – including youth groups, church groups and students – wanting to make sure that King's legacy is carried on to the next generation who dream of changing the world.

Erin Pretlor marched with her two daughters.

"It would be easy for us to just see this as a day off school. They're students. I'm a teacher," said Pretlor. "But the truth is, if we don't start paying attention to what's going on around us and standing for something and showing this is what we believe in – we believe that people should be treated fairly – if you don't do it, then you're not really part of it, and you're not helping make anything better for anybody."

In Durham, people also gathered Monday morning at the Sheraton Imperial Hotel for the 34th annual Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday Triangle Interfaith Prayer Breakfast.

Rev. Otis Moss III, pastor of Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago, was the keynote speaker for the breakfast.

Moss called King "an apostle of justice and an apostle of transformation leading a revolutionary movement" but said his legacy "has been sanitized and captured in a 1963 gaze," referring to his "I Have a Dream" speech at the Lincoln Memorial.

"We have de-radicalized the legacy of this man and all of the other ancestors who stood with him," Moss said. "(That's) that racism was, and is, a monstrous evil devouring the dreams and denying the imagination of people who've been kissed by nature's son."

Moss reminded the crowd of just how radical King's message was in his day.

"We must reassess what people say about Dr. Martin Luther King and reclaim the legacy of a man who J. Edgar Hoover said was the most dangerous man in America," Moss said. "You don’t' get on the FBI watch list being some assimilationist Kumbaya-type of individual. You get on the FBI watch list when you have a message and legacy and words that shake the very core and foundation of the structure of a country."

Ten-year-old Donovan Summers also spoke at the breakfast.

"Jesus was our lord and savior, and Dr. King was just a man," Summers, a fifth-grader at Rand Road Elementary School in Garner, said. "However, they both tried to lead us in the right direction; they tried to teach us to love one another, and they both met their deaths because of haters."

In Fayetteville, about 2,000 people gathered at the Expo Center at Crown Coliseum for the 21st Annual Martin Luther King Jr. Prayer Breakfast, where guest speaker District Judge Ed Pone spoke about the plight of the homeless, many of whom he said are military veterans.

"It's a shame that we have so many veterans who find themselves in that condition," Pone said. "I think that our community is focused on it now. They're cognizant of the problem, and I think they're going to work together to try and address that issue."

About 100 people marched in downtown Fayetteville to bring awareness to the problem and to bring hope to people such as Dawn Hammonds and Charles Cooper, who have lived beneath the Rowan Street bridge in Fayetteville for the past two years.

Other events also took place across North Carolina.

North Carolina civil rights leaders planned to honor King in Goldsboro Monday with a Moral Monday demonstration against policies stopped or reversed by state lawmakers that they say hurt the state's residents.

Gov. Pat McCrory honored King's legacy at a prayer breakfast at the YMCA of Greater Charlotte, where approximately 2,000 attended the 20th annual event.

Volunteers remember King with service

Others observed the holiday through service projects.

More than 2,200 volunteers participated in the United Way of the Greater Triangle's ninth annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service, which featured 35 volunteer community service projects in Durham, Johnston, Orange and Wake counties.

"We are committed to bringing communities together to achieve real change," said Mack Koonce, the chief executive officer and president of the Triangle United Way chapter. "Today, we did so in honor of Dr. King and the vision he exemplified – that, together, we can bring about lasting change to a neighborhood, a community, a state and a nation."

At North Carolina Central University in Durham, more than 750 volunteers – mostly students – showed up to put together 3,600 packets of soup and pantry items, as well as collect hundreds of scarves, teddy bears and thousands of educational flash cards to benefit those living at McDougal Terrace, a public housing community for low-income residents a mile from campus.

Volunteers said they enjoy knowing that the day's work is affecting neighbors who, at times, need help.

"That's the best kind of community service, when you know you are helping people right around the corner," said NCCU student Sable Nelson.

While volunteers worked, McDougal residents attended seminars, got free beauty services and then visited a community store stocked with books, clothes and items volunteers spent the morning making.

"We do feel special. We feel very special that someone thought of us," said Elaine Robinson, an 11-year resident of McDougal Terrace.

A similar project at St. Mary’s School in Raleigh included more than 350 volunteers with proceeds to support homeless shelters, food pantries, shelters for women and children and early childhood education programs across the Triangle.

King remembered nationwide

Across the nation, people also marked the King holiday.

President Barack Obama and the first lady honored King's legacy of service Monday by helping a Washington, D.C., soup kitchen prepare its daily meals and a host of administration figures fanned out across the capital to appear at holiday events.

In Columbia, S.C., Rev. William Barber, the president of the North Carolina chapter of the NAACP, spoke at a rally in which he criticized Republican leaders in Congress and governors in the South for having "treated most Americans badly" by refusing federal money to expand Medicaid and by allowing schools to fall further behind.

In San Antonio, an estimated 100,000 people took part in a march that's considered one of the largest in the country. The group marched for nearly 3 miles and ended the event with a program featuring food and refreshments.

In King's hometown of Atlanta, hundreds of people filled Ebenezer Baptist Church, where King preached, for prayers, songs, music and speakers.

And in Memphis, Tenn., where King was assassinated April 4, 1968, an audio recording of an interview with him 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 Kennedy 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 he never completed it and stored the recording with other interviews he'd done.


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  • dwr1964 Jan 21, 2014

    Who Cares?

  • jackaroe123 Jan 21, 2014

    I think the reason that allegedly doesn't sit well w/ the 'faithful' is that it is often thrown out there as the reason for, and solution to, all problems, w/ no regard to other factors. There are plenty of people who meet every reasonable standard of personal responsibility yet are still hindered by circumstances beyond their control. We owe their concerns our attention and for those problems to be 'front and center' as much as anything else. If they struggle to put personal responsibility 'front and center' to your specifications, perhaps it's b/c they don't sense any reciprocal listening and understanding from people like you. That creates an impasse, and those who don't humbly recognize that continue to shout 'Personal responsibility!' w/o listening.

  • censorbait Jan 21, 2014

    and nary a word about personal responsibility because it forces folk to face reality and look at themselves. And that message does not sell well to the faithful. Nothing will get better until that is front and center.

  • jackaroe123 Jan 21, 2014

    While it is great that MLK is so honored and beloved now, it detracts from just how controversial and radical he was at the time, and in losing that context, people fool themselves by embracing him now and rejecting people doing the work King most certainly would still be doing today.

  • Hubris Jan 20, 2014

    "we must rapidly begin the shift from a thing-oriented society to a person-oriented society."

    Amen to that!!!

    So much about America revolves around money and mindless consumerism. In one of my more cynical moments I agree with the last three lines of a Brad Pitt movie called "Killing Them Softly".

    "America is not a country. It's just a business. Now give me my money." -- the Pitt character.

    These marches and the thousands of charities throughout our country are a great counterweight to America's relentless pursuit of the dollar.

  • redstarlean Jan 20, 2014

    "I am convinced that if we are to get on the right side of the world revolution, we as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values. We must rapidly begin...we must rapidly begin the shift from a thing-oriented society to a person-oriented society. When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights, are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, extreme materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered." MLK, Jr. Beyond Vietnam speech, April 04, 1967.

  • Obamacare prevails again Jan 20, 2014

    View quoted thread

    I can't see anything here and would like to go back to bed.

  • mafiamic Jan 20, 2014

    View quoted thread

    Sorta like it is today?,still going on which goes to show many people have misunderstood what he was talking about.
    Instead of free love you have the churches promoting that "Love mankind,Love your fellow man,Love all,peace etc",But they promote judgment,exclusion of certain people because of who they "Love",and go and do what the ones they disagree with because of their "Love acts" sometimes even worse.
    The only kind of peace there is and ever will be is Peace of Mind.As long as people keep preaching about peace on earth that has no effect with them they will not achieve anything.
    Peace and Love begins with the home/yourself.That's not selfish but you have to love yourself before you can love another and have peace with yourself before there is peace around you.
    We are all the Light,go to it and shine brightly for the true meaning of Love is acceptance,Love/accept your fellow man,no matter how different they are without judgment,hate,fear.

  • Krimson Jan 20, 2014

    View quoted thread

    Your reference to RFK made me remember his speech upon learning MLK had been assassinated... A Google search for "RFK MLK Speech" will find it...

  • gingerlynn Jan 20, 2014

    Obamacare - I could see the parade from my window while I WORKED downtown.