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Research Center Would Serve to Continue King's Legacy

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RALEIGH — Some Triangle leaders have been trying to build a research center in Dr. Martin Luther King's name in the Triangle, but the project has hit some stumbling blocks.

A site near the King Memorial Gardens in Raleigh could one day hold the Dr. Martin Luther King, Junior Research Center.

Supporters envision a think tank that would bring together scholars to find solutions to some of society's problems.

"We thought it was also important to begin to apply the elements of Dr. King's thought and lifestyle to struggles against racism, division and violence," says Dr. Dumas Harshaw of First Baptist Church.

The idea was hatched two years ago, with a projected price tag of up to $6 million. Fund-raising efforts have lagged, partly because of Hurricane Floyd's toll on resources.

But supporters say that with King's 71st birthday, it is time to make the King Center a reality.

"We need to pick up the pace," says Harshaw. "We have so many crucial issues to address. We needed the building yesterday."

Support for the King Center is widespread, and many leaders believe the community will embrace the project.

"It would be a mistake to forget who were the prophetic voices of a previous time and obviously when you put that list together of prophetic voices of the 20th century, Martin Luther King is high on that list," says Father Tim O'Connor of the Sacred Heart Cathedral.

Organizers hope the King Center will gain enough momentum in the next few months to allow for ground-breaking this year. They would like to hold the 2001 King celebrations there.