Jackson remembers King's final birthday where he preached - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Jackson remembers King's final birthday where he preached

ATLANTA (AP) - The Reverend Jesse Jackson recalled that on the Reverend Martin Luther King Junior's 39th birthday, he was working at Ebenezer Baptist Church, where Jackson paid tribute to his friend two days before what would have been his 79th birthday.

The congregation at Ebenezer Baptist Church gave King a standing ovation and Jackson urged the crowd to continue to fight injustice and inequality as a birthday present to the slain leader, who was killed 40 years ago in April.

Shouting above the applause, Jackson said, "Be grateful, be diligent, be faithful. Long live Martin Luther King, Junior."

In his address, Jackson made short mention of the social progress made since King's death -- including Democratic Illinois Senator Barack Obama's historic candidacy for president.

He did include Obama as among dreamers like King, Nelson Mandela and Jesus Christ.

Jackson said that it is momentous that Obama could be victorious in a state like South Carolina, where the first shots of the Civil War were fired in an effort to maintain slavery. Jackson said Obama is in a tight race against Hillary Clinton -- whom he called "a woman of dignity" -- and that both require legal protection from bias four decades after King's assassination.

Jackson was with King on his last birthday, and with him in Memphis when he died on April fourth, 1968. He said that 40 years later, his mentor's work is not yet done.

King's actual birthday is on Tuesday, and the federal observance of his birthday is on January 21st.

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)

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