Marches, Prayer Breakfasts Honor Slain Civil Rights Leader
Posted January 19, 2004 3:18 a.m. EST
RALEIGH, N.C. — Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s name is synonymous with freedom and hope. Monday, people across the nation -- and North Carolina -- turned out by the hundreds to honor the civil rights leader and to make sure his legacy is preserved.
Hundreds of people took to the streets for the annual memorial march in downtown Raleigh. For many participants, the march is an annual reminder of the struggles faced in the civil rights movement.
"Martin Luther King and the others marched so we could be who we are -- wear the clothes we wear and not be segregated," Raleigh marcher Malik Fair said.
Every third Monday in January, there are hundreds of marches across the country, but King believers said it is what happens after the marches are over that matters most.
"If people sweep it under the rug and just think of Martin Luther King as history and the past, then we won't progress," Raleigh marcher Robin Hudson said.
Prior to a march down Franklin Street in Chapel Hill, about 200 people gathered at the First Baptist Church of Chapel Hill's 10th annual Martin Luther King Jr. Service.
The service featured members from the NAACP and local ministers who spoke in honor of King, as well as a community choir.
Prayer breakfasts started the day in a number of cities.
The 23rd annual Triangle Interfaith Prayer Breakfast took place at the Sheraton Imperial Hotel.
Sen. Elizabeth Dole spoke at a King Day prayer breakfast in Statesville. Rep. Bob Etheridge attended a King breakfast in Harnett County, before traveling to Sanford for that town's observance.
Two North Carolina counties, Union and Gaston, are officially observing King Day for the first time. Seven counties -- Ashe, Graham, Hayward, Macon, Mitchell, Watauga and Yadkin -- do not give employees the day off.