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Region Stages Tributes to Martin Luther King Jr.

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RALEIGH — Across the region, many tributes are being staged today to honor the late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. In Raleigh for instance, state leaders gather on the holiday to ring a replica of the liberty bell in King's memory.

Today's ceremony took place at the bicentennial plaza near the Legislative Building in downtown Raleigh. Local school children also joined in the celebration by reading quotations from King's speeches.

At 11 a.m., hundreds of people gathered at the state capitol for a march through downtown streets. Participants were a mix of black and white, young and old, male and female. As they walked, many carried placards and sang hymns associated with the civil rights movement.

One marcher, Avery Windford, said it is important to remember the past and move forward to the future. Chris Weedy said she was grateful to King because he did a lot for African-Americans and also for women, and that's why she had come for the march.

Although some politicians participated in the march, the preponderance of those who came out to pay tribute to Dr. King were ordinary citizens.

Capitol Broadcasting and WRAL-TV sponsored the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Triangle Interfaith Prayer Breakfast.

Hundreds of people turned out for the eighth annual breakfast at the Sheraton Imperial Hotel in RTP.

The Keynote speaker was Dr. William A. Thurston, pastor of Pleasant Grove Baptist Church. He is also the chair of the Department of Religion and Philosophy at Shaw University.

In Durham, dozens of protesters braved chilly temperatures and a brisk breeze to march in Dr. King's memory. Community members walked from the Mutual Life Building to the Durham Rescue Mission, chanting and waving signs bearing quotes.

In Fayetteville, thousands came out to honor King at a prayer breakfast. The event at the Charlie Rose Agri-Expo Center was sponsored by the Fayetteville-Cumberland County Ministerial Council.

Judges, city leaders and others in the community came to celebrate the civil rights leader's legacy and to share his important message with their children.

The theme for this year's breakfast was unity. This was the seventh year the breakfast has been held in Fayetteville.

Also today, Vice President Al Gore speaks at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta. That's King's former parish.

And, farther away, Boston volunteers plan to clean up trash and hold an educational fair to teach youngsters about King's life and legacy. In Philadelphia, more than 18,000 volunteers are expected to join in projects including planting trees, painting schools and sorting groceries at food banks.

King would have turned 71 years old last Saturday. He was assassinated in Memphis in 1968.

Another tribute signifying his life achievement is well under way.

The latest memorial will be built on four acres of land near the Jefferson Memorial in Washington, D.C. King is the first African-American honored with a memorial on the mall.

The King family has encouraged Americans to spend today volunteering or helping the less fortunate.

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Yvonne Simons, Reporter
John Cox, Photographer
Kay Miller, Web Editor

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