Too many black Americans have been sent to war in the Mideast and too few have jobs back home, followers of slain civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. said on the federal holiday marking his birth.
Calls for peace in the Persian Gulf and racial justice at home were heard throughout the country on the holiday Monday.In Philadelphia, the Rev. Joseph Lowery, president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference that King once headed in Georgia, remembered King's philosophy as he struck the Liberty Bell lightly in a pavilion across the street from Independence Hall.
At the annual ecumenical service at Atlanta's Ebenezer Baptist church, where King once preached, former Atlanta Mayor Andrew Young urged a temporary cease-fire in the Persian Gulf and the current mayor, Maynard Jackson, noted the high percentage of blacks in the U.S. military.
Also attending the church service was King's widow, Coretta Scott King. A parade through downtown Atlanta followed. Organizers estimated 70,000 people gathered in cold, blustery weather to watch.
King's 27-year-old daughter, the Rev. Bernice King, told 1,000 people Monday at Santa Monica College in California: "A true dreamer understands that war is obsolete."
In Arizona, one of three states that has not made King's birthday a paid state holiday, about 20,000 people marched four miles and rallied in front of the state Capitol in Phoenix.
Rev. Warren Stewart, a leader of the pro-King movement in Arizona, said he believed the gulf war contributed to the large turnout for Monday's rally, which last year drew about 15,000.