Christine King Farris, from left, the only living sibling of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., along with Dr. King's son, Martin Luther King III, his daughter Yolanda, 2, and wife Arndrea, look on during a ceremony honoring the late civil rights leader in the State Capitol Thursday, Jan. 13, 2011, in Atlanta. The nation will mark the 25th federal observance of King's birthday on Monday. (AP Photo/David Goldman) (AP)

Martin Luther King III to pay tribute to father

Eldest son of Martin Luther King will address a crowd at his father's old church on this holiday's 25th anniversary

Errin Haines
January 17, 2011 5:44PM (UTC)

The eldest son of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. was expected to address a crowd of hundreds gathered Monday to mark the 25th anniversary of the federal holiday named for his father.

Martin Luther King III, president and chief executive officer of The King Center, was to deliver the keynote address at the annual holiday observance, held at Ebenezer Baptist Church, where his father preached from 1960 until his death in 1968.


He has linked the holiday honoring the winner of the 1964 Nobel Peace Prize winner to the tragic shootings in Tucson, Ariz., which left six people dead and Democratic Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords fighting for her life, saying the horrific incident underscores the continued need for King's message.

King would have been 82 on Jan. 15. Members of the King family also planned to lay a wreath at the tombs of Martin Luther King Jr. and his widow, Coretta Scott King.

King is the only American who was not a U.S. president to have a federal holiday named in his honor. He has been recognized on the third Monday in January since 1986.


The commemorative service caps a week of events that included a ceremony honoring King at the state Capitol and The Salute to Greatness Awards Dinner, which honored the late Sen. Edward Kennedy for his work on civil rights. His widow, Victoria, attended the ceremony and accepted the award on his behalf. The senator died at age 77 in 2009 after a battle with brain cancer.

Also scheduled to speak Monday was U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder.

Errin Haines

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