The first Martin Luther King Day since the death of King’s widow and chief keeper of his civil rights dream was marked in Atlanta with speeches, visits to the couple’s tomb and the opening of a collection of his papers.
Crowds lined up early at the Atlanta History Center to see the first exhibition of King’s collected papers since they were returned to his hometown.
The exhibit includes King’s letter from the Birmingham jail, an early draft of his “I Have a Dream” speech, his acceptance speech for the Nobel Peace Prize and more than 600 other personal documents
The legacy of Coretta Scott King, who died Jan. 31 at 78, loomed large over the 21st observance of the holiday at the historic Ebenezer Baptist Church, where he preached.
An activist in her own right, she also fought to preserve her husband’s legacy after his death and founded the Martin Luther King Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change.
“It is in her memory and her honor that we must carry this program on,” said her sister-in-law Christine King Farris. “This is as she would have it.”