Parades, marches and service projects to honor MLK

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by The Associated Press and azfamily.com

Video reports by Ryan O'Donnell

Posted on January 20, 2014 at 10:28 AM

Updated Tuesday, Jan 21 at 3:59 PM

NATIONWIDE -- The nation paused to remember Martin Luther King Jr. Monday with parades, marches and service projects.

King was born Jan. 15, 1929, and the federal holiday is the third Monday in January.

Before the annual MLK Parade in Mesa, the city unveiled the new Martin Luther King Jr. Way at Center Street and Third Place. The city renamed the section of Third Place between Center Street and Centennial Way in King's honor.

The decision to create MLK Way was made in December after years of work by Mesa's MLK Committee.

The area used to be home to a segregated park and swimming pool for the community's black, Native American and Latino residents. The Better Community Council was formed in 1953 to put an end to the segregation.

Mesa Councilor Chris Glover says the street now represents a movement that helped change the character of the country and inspire the world.

In Phoenix, hundreds of students gathered to lead a three-mile march from Pilgrim Rest Baptist Church to Margaret T. Hance Park. The march culminated in an all-day festival.

In Atlanta, a service was planned at Ebenezer Baptist Church, where King was pastor. In Memphis, Tenn., where King was assassinated, an audio recording of an interview with King would be played at the National Civil Rights Museum. The recording sheds new light on a phone call President John F. Kennedy made to King's wife more than 50 years ago.

Historians generally agree Kennedy's phone call to Coretta Scott King expressing concern over her husband's arrest in October 1960 - and Robert Kennedy's work behind the scenes to get King released - helped JFK win the White House.

In Ann Arbor, Mich., activist and entertainer Harry Belafonte planned to deliver the keynote address for the 28th annual Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. Symposium on Monday morning at the University of Michigan's Hill Auditorium.

Over the summer, the nation celebrated the 50th anniversary of King's famous "I Have a Dream" speech.

The civil rights leader delivered his speech from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial during the historic 1963 March on Washington for jobs, economic justice and racial equality.

"When you are talking about Dr. King's speech at the March on Washington, you're talking about one of the maybe five greatest speeches in American history," President Barack Obama said in a radio interview on Aug. 27. "And the words that he spoke at that particular moment, with so much at stake, and the way in which he captured the hopes and dreams of an entire generation I think is unmatched."

King was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964 and was gunned down by an assassin in Memphis, Tenn., in 1968.

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