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GREENVILLE, S.C. —People across the Carolinas and the rest of the U.S. paused Monday to honor the slain civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. with parades, marches and service projects.
The King family laid a wreath at the monument honoring Dr. King in Washington, D.C. King’s daughter, Bernice, is urged a day of nonviolence. In Atlanta, a service was held at Ebenezer Baptist Church, where King was pastor.
In Memphis, Tenn., where King was assassinated, an audio recording of an interview with King will be played at the National Civil Rights Museum. The recording sheds new light on a phone call then-Sen. 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.
One of the first events Monday in the Upstate was the Hip Hop, Rap and Spoken Word event, sponsored by the Upcountry History Museum and Furman University. The free event taught high school students how to interpret historical events through modern art forms.
In Spartanburg, the city hosted an MLK Day of Service starting at 8 a.m., as part of the 27th annual Unity Week Celebration. The event took place at the C.C. Woodson Community Center. It was organized by the Spartanburg Community Services Office.
The Asheville Jewish Community Center hosted MLK Make A Difference Day. The Mitzvah Corps volunteer group honored the life and teachings of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in a day of service. Participants worked with hundreds of community members to make blankets, math flash cards, bookmarks and other items to contribute to local service organizations.
Students at Greenville Technical College observed Martin Luther King Day with service projects. Teams rotated through different stations until noon. Participants performed services that include making sandwiches for agencies that feed the hungry, a station where appreciation cards were made for veterans, an animal appreciation station where attendees made toys for groups serving animals and a giving station where donations were made for the college’s Habitat project.
The Trees Coalition of Spartanburg gathered in the Glendale Shoals neighborhood to honor Dr. King’s legacy of community service. USC Upstate students and volunteers worked to eradicate thousands of invasive privet plants. The invasive plant mars the landscape of the historic area that is owned by Palmetto Conservation, according to the Trees Coalition. Volunteers also conducted research to determine the level of privet infestation. A lecture discussing the danger the privet and other invasive plants pose to Spartanburg trees and communities was held at USC-Upstate at the Goodall Environmental Studies Center.
And at 2 p.m., the Greenville group called Put Down The Guns Young People hosted a Walk In Peace for children and teens in memory of Dr. King. King was born Jan. 15, 1929, and the federal holiday is the third Monday in January.