Local News

With Obama, King's 'dream' realized, some say

Posted January 19, 2009 7:25 a.m. EST
Updated March 9, 2009 5:12 p.m. EDT

— Remembering the life and legacy of slain civil rights leader Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., hundreds of people of all ages and generations marched through downtown Raleigh Monday morning – one of several celebrations happening throughout the Triangle on the eve of the inauguration of the nation's first black president.

In his famous "I Have a Dream" speech on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial more than 45 years ago, the Baptist minister from Atlanta spoke powerfully of his desire for all races to peacefully live with one another and be judged not by the color of their skins, but by the content of their character.

That dream has become a partial realization for some who took part in Monday's march as the nation prepares for President-elect Barack Obama to take the oath of office Tuesday.

"It means a whole lot to me," said Brenda Spencer. "It means so much. I just can't express my feelings today. I just feel like crying today. His dream came true."

"I've seen this movement grow and change, and it is such an honor to be a part of this march today," said Weldon Egerton, who said he couldn't imagine a black U.S. president when he graduated from a segregated high school. "This is a march of change. It's not like the marches we used to do. This is a different march. It's more like a march of victory."

Observances of King's memory – he was assassinated at age 39 on April 4, 1968, while standing on a motel balcony in Memphis, Tenn. – began last Thursday on what would have been his 80th birthday and continue throughout the week with prayer and community service projects in his honor.

Monday's began with the 38th annual Triangle Interfaith Prayer Breakfast in Durham, with Gov. Bev Perdue addressing attendees. A replica of the Liberty Bell rang in King's honor in the plaza outside the North Carolina Museum of History.

Among other events was an ecumenical observance Monday at Meymadni Concert Hall at the Progress Energy Center in downtown Raleigh. Fayetteville State University scheduled a free concert to pay tribute to King at Seabrook Auditorium at 7 p.m.

Speaking at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., Sunday, Obama noted the symbolism of the holiday's proximity to his inauguration.

"I stand here today as hopeful as ever that the United States of America will endure, that it will prevail, that the dream of our founders will live in our time," he said.