The America that the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. envisioned comes closer to reality each time someone reaches out to help someone else, his widow said Sunday at a service summit convened in the slain civil rights leader's honor.
"The greatness of a community is most accurately measured by the compassionate actions of its members," Coretta Scott King said. To serve, she said, quoting her husband, all one needs is "a heart of grace and a soul generated by love."
The meeting at Georgia State University and services at King's church, Ebenezer Baptist, were the focal point of Atlanta's holiday observances Sunday. King would have turned 71 on Saturday.
Vice President Al Gore is scheduled to speak today, the federal holiday honoring King, during a service at Ebenezer Baptist. South African President Thabo Mbeki and Gov. Roy Barnes will lead a march in King's honor.
Around the country, several service activities are planned, including blood drives, neighborhood cleanups and Habitat for Humanity house-building projects. The largest citywide service project is planned in Philadelphia, where more than 18,000 volunteers are expected to join in projects including painting schools and clearing out abandoned houses. The King holiday, which President Reagan signed into law in 1983, has widely become known as a day of volunteerism and community service.