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Obama Celebrates Martin Luther King, Jr.


U.S. President-elect Barack Obama pays tribute Monday, to the late African-American civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr. by focusing on community service.

Martin Luther King Day is an annual federal holiday, traditionally marked by taking part in volunteer activities for the public good.

On the day before he is inaugurated as the country's first African-American president, Mr. Obama will be joined by civic leaders nationwide running service projects, ranging from cleaning up parks to assembling care packages for troops.

The country's next president begins the day in Washington with an event discussing a new Web site, USAservice.org, that helps Americans organize community service programs, or find such programs to join.

Later, he will host separate dinners to honor Republican Senator John McCain, Vice President-elect Joe Biden and former Secretary of State Colin Powell.

The wives of the incoming president and vice president - Michelle Obama and Jill Biden - will host a free inaugural concert for young people to honor military families.

Mr. Obama attended inauguration events Sunday, including a church service, a somber visit to the Tomb of the Unknowns at the national military cemetery near Washington, and a jubilant outdoor concert attended by tens of thousands of Americans.

Near the conclusion of the star-studded "We Are One" concert, held at the Lincoln Memorial on the National Mall, Mr. Obama took the stage. He said the challenges the United States faces will take many months or years to overcome, but he is as hopeful as ever that the American dream will live on.

The Lincoln Memorial was the scene of civil rights leader Martin Luther King's most famous speech - the "I Have a Dream" address of August 28, 1963. It also was the scene of a historic 1939 performance by African-American singer Marian Anderson, who had been refused permission to perform in a nearby venue because of her race.

It was President Abraham Lincoln, in 1862, who issued the Emancipation Proclamation to free slaves in the United States. On Tuesday, Mr. Obama will place his hand on Lincoln's Bible when taking the oath of office.

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