The eldest daughter of Martin
Luther King Jr
. and Coretta Scott King
evoked the civil rights movement while reminding those remembering
her parents that America has not yet reached the promised land
of peace and racial equality.
"We must keep reaching across the table and, in the tradition
of Martin Luther King Jr
. and Coretta
, feed each other," Yolanda King
said Sunday at Ebenezer Baptist Church during a presentation
that was part motivational speech, part drama.
, 51, spoke a day before Monday's celebration
of the civil rights leader's birthday, the first since the death
last year of Coretta Scott King
. This year's
holiday also comes on the day Martin Luther King, Jr
would have turned 78. King
while standing on the balcony of a hotel in Memphis, Tenn.,
on April 4, 1968. His confessed killer, James Earl Ray, was
arrested two months later in London.
told The Associated Press the
holiday provides an opportunity for everyone to live her father's
dream, and that she has her mother's example to follow.
"I connected with her spirit so strongly," she said when asked
how she is coping with her mother's loss. "I am in direct contact
with her spirit, and that has given me so much peace and so
The stage and television actress performed a series of scenes
that told stories including a girl's first ride on a desegregated
bus and a college student's recollection of the 1963 desegregation
of Birmingham, Ala.
After the performance, attended by members of the extended family
's sister, the Rev. Bernice
, Yolanda King
and her aunt, Christine
, signed copies of their books, and Bernice
posed for photographs with attendees.
On Monday, Ebenezer Baptist Church, where King
preached from 1960 to 1968, was to be the venue for more remembrances
and speeches. The keynote speaker was to be Dr. Otis Moss Sr.,
pastor of Olivet Institutional Baptist Church.
In West Columbia, S.C., several hundred people gathered Monday
morning for a breakfast prayer service honoring King.
The Rev. Brenda Kneece, 45, executive minister of the South
Carolina Christian Action Council, said King
set the standard for sacrifice and vision.
"The vision became even more powerful because he understood
the risks he was taking,'' Kneece said. "It's very important
for our children to know that his sacrifice didn't win the war.
We still have to keep at it."
In New York, rallies, speeches and volunteer efforts were to
mark the King
holiday, some invoking the Iraq
War, the conflict in Sudan and local tensions surrounding the
fatal police shooting of a black groom.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg, the Rev. Al Sharpton and Gov. Eliot
Spitzer were expected to attend a forum, joining Nicole Paultre-Bell,
whose fiance was killed by police in a barrage of 50 bullets
The Rev. Herbert Daughtry, the national minister of the House
of the Lord Churches, said he would lead an act of civil disobedience
outside the Sudan Mission in New York.
In New York on Sunday, some politics mixed in with the King
observances as Democratic presidential hopeful
John Edwards addressed about 1,200 parishioners at Riverside
Church, a multiracial, politically active Manhattan congregation
delivered his famous "Beyond Vietnam"
speech on April 4, 1967.
Edwards called on Americans to resist President Bush's planned
troop escalation in Iraq, echoing King
40 years ago to end the Vietnam War. Edwards spoke from the
same wooden pulpit King
used and was introduced
by one of King
's sons, Martin Luther
New Yorkers also planned to volunteer on the holiday in a spirit
of service, such as knitting blankets for babies born to mothers
with HIV/AIDS, painting murals, building homes, revitalizing
their community and making fleece scarves for the homeless.
Coretta Scott King
died last year on Jan. 31
at age 78. An activist in her own right, she also fought to
shape and preserve her husband's legacy after his death.
Shortly after his death, she founded what would become the Martin
Luther King Jr
. Center for Nonviolent Social Change.
For years, she worked to establish Jan. 15 as a federal holiday,
which became a reality in 1986.
"When you see the commitment my parents exhibited ... it was
not for fame or fortune," Yolanda King
"The best sermons are those that are lived."
In Boston, Gov. Deval Patrick - the first black governor of
Massachusetts, who took office only a few days ago – will be
the keynote speaker at Monday's Martin Luther King
Day ceremonies at Faneuil Hall, one of the nation's best known
colonial landmarks, and at the United Union Methodist Church.
On Saturday, King
's late widow was honored
at the annual Salute to Greatness Dinner, a fundraiser for the
Another commemoration of Dr. King
public a chance to get a closer look at his ideas and writings.
Over 600 of his personal documents have been put on display,
for the first time, in Atlanta.
The exhibit - which includes an early draft of his famed "I
Have a Dream
" speech in Washington in 1963 - is
a glimpse at the collection of more than 10,000 King papers
and books that Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin helped privately
acquire for $32 million last summer from Sotheby's auction house.
The mayor pulled off the deal with the help of more than 50
corporate, government and private donors to give the papers
to Atlanta's Morehouse College
, where King
in 1948 with a bachelor's degree in sociology.
The Atlanta History Center
, where the exhibit will be through
May 13, is anticipating widespread interest of the papers. Until
now, the collection has only been displayed at Sotheby's auction
house in New York, both last summer and in 2003, in conjunction
with the 40th anniversary of the 1963 March on Washington, when
delivered his "Dream
speech about his hope that people of all races would be treated
Sotheby's has called the collection "an unparalleled gathering
of primary documents from Dr. King
's most active
"The question is often asked, 'Where is the dream coming from?'"
said Elizabeth Miller, who curated the Sotheby's exhibit and
helped with the smaller Atlanta exhibit. "This exhibit shows
the genesis and the struggle of that internal journey."