Monday, we are celebrating the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. It is an official day of remembrance of the civil rights pioneer who would have turned 84 last Tuesday and King's dream is continuing in Albany. Megan Cruz joined us from Albany's Lincoln Park, where a memorial bears his name.
ALBANY, N.Y. -- "I have a dream..."
Four words that still resonate with thousands. Fifty years after Dr. Martin Luther King said them on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, New Yorkers gathered at the State's Capitol.
"It's really important for us to know where we come from and what has happened to make us the people we are today," Albany resident Angela Williams said.
"Think about what I can do here within my community and try to make changes and bridge people together," said Anthony Gooding, an Albany resident.
This is Gooding's first time at the annual memorial event. Another newcomer is nine-year-old Yashab House.
House said, "He fought for slavery and our freedom."
Monday's not only Martin Luther King Jr. Day. It's also House’s ninth birthday. His dad said his son wanted to come to the ceremony.
"It's leaving a legacy. A mark in their brain that can't be erased. Not just hear about history and read it and watch it, but an experience like this brings it more alive," said Pastor Veron House.
"That's why we invite young people to sing, perform and to make sure they're part of the ceremony. Because it's not a day off, it's a day of action," said New York State Office of General Services Commissioner RoAnn Destito.
But the celebration wasn't just about remembering the man with a dream. It's about honoring those who have followed in his footsteps. That's why Herbert Thorpe, a Tuskegee airman, was awarded the New York State Martin Luther King Jr. Humanitarian Award.
Thorpe says King's his hero.
"He had a set of principles, of a way to live and how to do the right thing. And he followed that regardless of where he had to go and who he had to help," Thorpe said.
And as King had marched through Washington, people then marched through Albany. They laid a wreath at King's Monument in Lincoln Park. Coincidentally, another momentous occasion was unfolding at the exact same time: President Barack Obama beginning his second term in office.
Pastor House said, "That makes today's experience even greater."
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