Mid-South remembers King through service, celebration - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Mid-South remembers King through service, celebration

By Jamel Major - bio | email | Facebook

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - People from across the Mid-South took time Monday to remember the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. through service and celebration.

In downtown Memphis, hundreds turned out for the 26th annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. National Parade.

"We're celebrating a legend, a man who changed the country, who gave African Americans the right to do whatever it is their heart desire, because we're all human beings and deserve to be treated the same," Mary Wright said. "That's what we learned from Dr. King."

It was a march that lasted for several blocks.  People came out in full force to honor the life and legacy of a civil right's pioneer who meant so much to so many.

"We're remembering and honoring all the ideas that MLK Jr. had for his people and all people," Shaweda Gates said.

"He did so many great things," Gregg Vann added. "(He was) Really one of the greatest African American men to ever live.  We just want to pay respect to him, his life, and everything he did."

Members of the Zeta Phi Beta sorority said the parade was also a chance to reflect on what King truly stood for.

"He fought for our rights and we need to utilize those rights," Wright said.

Others said helping to keep Dr. King's hope and dream alive is what the holiday is truly about.

"MLK Jr. stood for more than just non-violence," Gates added. "He believed in education for all people, he believed in unity."

Just blocks away, newly-inaugurated Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam and Memphis Mayor A C Wharton visited MIFA to celebrate King's legacy and honor volunteers who serve those who need help.

During their visit, Tennessee's new first lady, Crissie Haslam, delivered Meals on Wheels from Knoxville's Love Kitchen. A Memphis native, Haslam told an assembly of students at MIFA headquarters that of all the volunteer work she does, delivering meals is her favorite:

"They know you're going to deliver their food and ultimately, you're delivering hope to those people," she said. "It's a lot more than delivering a simple meal."

Gov. Haslam echoed his inaugural address in Memphis by saying the government is not going to solve society's problems, but volunteers who pitch in at agencies like MIFA can make a difference.

Nationally, the shootings in Arizona loomed large as the nation marked King's legacy, with many speakers drawing on his message of nonviolence as a key lesson in the wake of the tragedy.

President Barack Obama said part of King's legacy was about service and urged Americans to get out into their communities - a step he suggested would have special meaning following the Tucson rampage.

"After a painful week where so many of us were focused on the tragedy, it's good for us to remind ourselves of what this country is all about," he told reporters as he and first lady Michelle Obama took part in a painting project at a school on Capitol Hill in Washington.
National and local politicians joined members of the King family at his former church in Atlanta to mark what would have been the civil rights icon's 82nd birthday. It was also the 25th anniversary of the federal holiday established to honor King, who won the 1964 Nobel Peace Prize.

Copyright 2011 WMC-TV. All rights reserved. The AP contributed to this story.

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