Lehigh Valley

MLK honored throughout region

MLK honored throughout region

The memory of civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was honored across the country on Monday.

People everywhere are marched together, prayed together and served together to honor the slain civil rights leader.

King would have turned 83 on Sunday had an assassins's bullet not ended his life. But his legacy lives on.

Led by a U.S. flag and the song, "We Shall Overcome," Bethlehem residents honored King's legacy.

More than 100 people made their way through the streets to the park named for King.

"As I pan out today, and I look around I see a lot of youth here, a lot of men and women, and I am encouraged by that because that means that the torch is now ready to be passed," said Easton City Councilman Ken Brown.

"He said we have to love them until there would be nothing they would do but love us back," said Josh Young, a student at Freedom High School.

King led the way for civil rights in the 1960s, authoring possibly one of the best known speeches of the era.

"I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed," said King, who was assassinated in Memphis in April, 1968, but his dream lived on Monday in marches across the country.

"All of us can think ourselves in our own lives, what we can do to embody the ideals of Martin Luther King and he certainly showed us the path," said Bethlehem Mayor John Callahan.

Organizers of the event said King's influence can be seen by the increasing numbers in the march over the years.

"He made the light some ways, but there is still more to come," said Frankie West.

The NAACP hosted an event titled, "A Tribute to a King," at St. James A.M.E. Zion Church on Union Street in Allentown.

Becky Pringle, the secretary treasurer of the National Education Association, spoke at the event. She said she hoped to motivate the audience to step up and make King's dream a reality.

The Swain School in Allentown held its second annual community celebration, called "A Tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.: A Day of Remembrance, Celebration and Service."

The event featured educational sessions, discussions and musical performances.

A breakfast was also held at East Stroudsburg University in Monroe County.

In Easton, King was honored at the Shiloh Baptist Church.

In Bethlehem, King's speech, "Declaration of Independence from the War in Vietnam," was read in the Daughters of the American Revolution house in the Rose Garden.

Moravian College in Bethlehem also held an interfaith service in King's honor.

Penn State University's Berks campus will honor King's memory with a special banquet at 6 p.m. on Tuesday.  Vaughn Spencer, Reading's first African American mayor, will serve as the keynote speaker.

In Harrisburg, Gov. Tom Corbett helped to launch the Central Pennsylvania MLK Day of Service, a community service effort involving hundreds of students from around the capital region.

"Dr. King's whole life was spent in service to his fellow citizens," Corbett said to students assembled at the Camp Curtain School. "This is the day we become agents of change… by helping others and keeping faith with Dr. King's sacrifice."

"As we reflect on the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., may we honor his life by resolving to work together in peace and civility. Let us confront our common challenges in unity and continue the fight for equal rights and justice for all," said U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie proclaimed Monday "Martin Luther King, Jr. Day" across the state.

"Today, as we honor the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., I am proud New Jersey has long been at the forefront of efforts to honor and continue his work," said Christie. "I encourage New Jerseyans to pause and reflect on his contributions to our society and to do their part to make his dream a reality for all Americans. Dr. King's message is one that is deeply rooted in the same ideals that have made our state and our nation great -- equality, freedom, faith, and opportunity for all."

New Jersey, under Gov. Tom Kean, was the first state to establish a Martin Luther King, Jr. Commemorative Commission in 1983 to ensure King's life and work were continually recognized across New Jersey.

Created by an act of Congress, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day was signed into law by President Reagan in 1983 to honor the slain civil rights leader. The holiday was first observed at the national level in 1986.

In 1994, Congress designated the Martin Luther King Jr. federal holiday as a national day of service. It is the only federal holiday observed as a national day of service.

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