US holiday weekend celebrates Martin Luther King Jr.

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The Independent Online

Since 1986, the third Monday of January in the US is the designated holiday honoring Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., the African-American civil rights activist. But rather than a day off, this January 18 is considered a national day of community service.

Over the three-day weekend, events from concerts to candlelight vigils pay tribute to King's legacy. Parades march along Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevards in many US cities from Atlanta to Baltimore. The largest in Los Angeles draws nearly half a million people to participate in the Kingdom Day Parade for its 25th year.

In New York City, The New York City Coalition Against Hunger dedicates the weekend of volunteer work to the memory of King with more than 1,000 soup kitchens across the city. Also, walking tours through Harlem take visitors to key sites following the black leader's footsteps.

The 24th Annual Tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. at the Brooklyn Academy of Music features Danny Glover ( Lethal Weapon) speaking to the crowd, plus a free gospel music performance and documentary screening of Soundtrack for a Revolution, about the music that drove the civil-rights movement.

In Washington DC, singer India.Arie performs at the "Let Freedom Ring" tribute concert with the Let Freedom Ring Choir at the Kennedy Center.

In Atlanta, Dr. King's hometown, a series of events includes the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra's 18th Annual "A King Celebration" concert featuring the world premiere of jazz great Wynton Marsalis's new symphonic work, "Blues Symphony," at the King International Chapel at Morehouse College.

Also in Atlanta this year, a dedication of the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Mural, a 125-foot (38 meter) mural designed by artist Louis Delsarte and painted by volunteers is unveiled at Peace Plaza at the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site.

In 1964, King received the Nobel Peace Prize for his work to end racial discrimination through nonviolence. He was assassinated in 1968 in Memphis, Tennessee. It was Stevie Wonder's song "Happy Birthday" that inspired and built momentum for a campaign and petition for the holiday. In 1986, the holiday was first observed.

www.mlkday.gov

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