ATLANTA - If he were alive now, Martin Luther King would be reacting
to the sobering news emanating from overseas with a message of peace
and compassion, his son said Monday.
A commemorative service marked the King holiday at Ebenezer Baptist
Church, where King was preacher from 1960 until his assassination in
1968 at age 39. Thousands of people were expected to take part in an
afternoon rally and march through downtown Atlanta.
Martin Luther King III asked the congregation to remember his father's
legacy of peace as America wages war in Iraq and to remember his
message of compassion in light of the tsunami disaster.
"Let us respond to this challenge by reaching out to help our sisters
and brothers who are suffering because of the tsunami," he said.
At a King day breakfast on Boston, Sen. John Kerry made some of his
strongest comments since Election Day about problems with voting in
While reiterating that he did not contest the presidential election,
Kerry said: "I nevertheless make it clear that thousands of people
were suppressed in the effort to vote. Voting machines were
distributed in uneven ways. In Democratic districts, it took people
four, five, 11 hours to vote, while Republicans (went) through in 10
minutes; same voting machines, same process, our America."
"Martin Luther King reminded us that yes, we have to accept finite
disappointment, and I know how to do that," Kerry said to chuckles
from listeners. "But he said we must ... never give up on infinite
In Atlanta, Republican Sen. Saxby Chambliss told the crowd at Ebenezer
Baptist that the country is better off because of King's work.
"The dream of Dr. King will not be fulfilled until everyone who is
uneducated is educated, everyone who is homeless has a roof over their
head, and all who hunger become fed," Chambliss said.
Rep. John Lewis, a Democrat, said King would have opposed the war in
"I believe he would be saying today, 'End the war, end the war in
Iraq," Lewis said. "Bring our young men and our young women home.'"
King, born in Atlanta Jan. 15, 1929, would have turned 76 on Saturday.
In Washington, President Bush planned to attend an event honoring King
at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.
"Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., was a visionary American and a dedicated
leader who believed deeply in liberty and dignity for every person,"
Bush said in a holiday proclamation. "His faith and courage continue
to inspire America and the world."
Copyright 2005 The Associated Press.
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[TELECOM Digest Editor's Note: I had the distinct honor of meeting
Dr. King and having an intimate dinner (eight of us in total present)
with him and his wife in 1965. Martin L. King and his wife Coretta
Scott King were in Chicago that winter weekend in January, 1965 for
various reasons, one of which was to speak at the Chicago Sunday
Evening Club at Orchestra Hall. My roomate, Roy Anderson was the
organist for Sunday Evening Club, and he told me King would be there
that night, so I decided to go along. As always, Dr. King spoke
very eloquently and forcefully. It was the custom there that after
the weekly meetings, one or more of the Trustees of the Club would
take the speaker (of that week) out for dinner, as often as not at a
place called Miller's Pub, on Adams Street just around the corner
from Orchestra Hall. Mr. Hanson, president of Sunday Evening Club
invited my roomate Roy to join them and Roy in turn invited me to go
along. So, MLK, and his wife; Mr. Hanson and his wife; another of
the trustees and his wife; Roy and I all went to Miller's Pub for
drinks and dinner that evening.
Even in those long ago times, I was quite accustomed to writing my
Editor's Notes, often times full of piss and vinigar to make my
points. But on this night, I thought it was more prudent to just sit
and listen as Dr. King spoke again to those of us at the dinner
table, in a conversation that went on for about three hours and far
too many vodka gimlets for me at least. Finally, as it neared midnight,
Dr. King announced he and his wife had to get back to the hotel where
they were staying, and this late evening dinner party broke up. Mr.
Hanson and the others all left to get their cars to drive home (he
lived in Hinsdale as I recall); Roy and I went out on Adams Street to
fetch a cab for Dr. and Mrs. King; the cab took them to their hotel
(close by, the Conrad Hilton), then Roy and I retained the cab and
went on to our apartment in Hyde Park.
At this time, the Chicago Police Department had its infamous 'Red
Squad' spy unit going full time, causing much hatred and discontent
for everyone. Even though King knew they could have just walked the
three blocks or so to the Hilton hotel, they did not want to get
stopped or hassled by police downtown, so we got a cab instead. The
same Chicago Police were causing some very sophisticated problems for
any group which deigned to have speakers or 'politicians' or community
leaders of whom they (police) or Mayor Daley disapproved. About a
month later, I happened to be downtown one day and ran into a fellow
I knew, Francis Gregory who was the office manager and administrator
for the Sunday Evening Club. I asked him quite innocently if 'Doctor
King will be back again next year to speak.' Fran said to me, "the
Trustees did not invite him to return, they said he was 'too
controversial', even though he has been here three or four times in
as many years." That's all he would say. Illinois Bell Telephone
Company had always paid Dr. King's honorarium when he came to Chicago
to speak, and rumor was that IBT in a very hush-hush way also was
told to quit their largesse to him, that Mayor Daley did not care for
it. Then about three years later, King was gunned down and silenced
permanently at the motel in Memphis, causing Chicago and many other
cities to go up in flames in riots that lasted several days. PAT]