The 76th anniversary of the birth of Martin Luther King Jr. was commemorated in the church where he preached and in the neighborhood where he grew up. Mike Cooper reports from Atlanta on events marking the federal holiday honoring Reverend King.
The hometown celebration of the birthday of slain civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. began with an ecumenical service at the historic Ebenezer Baptist Church, where King preached before he was assassinated in 1968. Martin Luther King III, the president of the King Center in Atlanta, asked the congregation to remember his father's legacy of peace.
"We commemorate on this national holiday the passionate patriot who marched under the American flag and demanded that the nation he loved honor its noblest ideals of freedom, justice, and equality for all citizens," he said.
Among the dignitaries attending was Georgia Congressman John Lewis, a Democrat and a veteran of the civil rights movement. Congressman Lewis said Reverend King believed in taking action to build a world community at peace with itself.
"If Dr. Martin Luther King could speak to us today, he would say 'stand up, speak out, speak up and talk back. Do not be so quiet and make some noise.' Today, as we celebrate and commemorate the birthday of Martin Luther King Jr., I say find your passion and then take a stand," he said. "I believe he would be saying today, 'End the war, end the war in Iraq. And Bring our young men and our young women home.'"
After the almost three-hour church service, members of the King family laid a wreath at Reverend King's crypt and there was a march and rally through the city's downtown.