On this day commemorating the birthday of Martin Luther King Jr, thousands gathered in an Atlanta church where the civil rights activist preached his message of nonviolence. Political leaders said the teachings were especially relevant in light of the recent shooting rampage in Arizona.
US Congressman John Lewis who was a civil rights activist himself said there’s still too much violence in America and cited the Arizona tragedy.
“What is running rampant among us that would seek to destroy Representative Gabrielle Giffords along with 19 other people? Six people were killed including an innocent nine year old girl. What does it take for us to see that something is wrong?”
Attorney General Eric Holder and US Senator Johnny Isakson also invoked the Arizona shootings as a reminder for people to learn to disagree without being hostile and violent.
Martin Luther King Jr. was 39 when he was assassinated; he would have been 82 years old.
Today marks the 25th anniversary of the federal holiday.
Legislation to create the national holiday marking the birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr. was introduced just days after he was assassinated in 1968. But it wasn't until 1986 that the nation would observe the day.
At Atlanta's Ebenezer Baptist Church where King preached his ministry of non-violence, his family lead a service to honor the civil rights leader.
The service has been held every year since King's death.
Meanwhile, three school districts in extreme north Georgia have reversed course, and will be closed to students today. Systems in Fannin, Gilmer and Habersham counties had originally planned to re-open classrooms on today's federal holiday. School officials said they had no choice in order to begin to make up the numerous snow days already taken. But due to some icy roads still persisting in those counties, officials made the change Sunday night to keep schools closed. The three county systems had drawn criticism from some prominent civil rights leaders for its original called to open schools on MLK Day.