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Great words, greater deeds remembered

By Mark Davis

ATLANTA, Georgia (CNN) -- The song rose to the gables, rolled through the glass doors and into the sunny air where his words echoed five decades earlier.

"We shall overcome "

The wind picked up the verse, carrying it past tour buses and cars with out-of-state plates already clogging the street a day before the holiday in his honor.

"We shall overcome "

The words reached as far as a white marble mausoleum, dazzling in a blue reflecting pool and containing the remains of a man who had a dream.

"We shall overcome someday."

A dinner held at the Martin Luther King Center in Atlanta, Georgia, honors those who carry on the legacy of the late American civil rights activist. WAGA's Tracy Flanagan reports (January 21)

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Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., the preacher who made the world his pulpit, is part of history now. Had he not been assassinated April 4, 1968, and remained alive, King would have been 73 this past Tuesday, January 15.

Monday is his day, and cities, towns and communities across the nation will pause to remember Atlanta's son.

What would he say today, with one nation newly on alert for terrorists and another digging out of the rubble of a U.S.-led war?

"I think he would be very disappointed with all the conflicts in the world," said Georgia state Rep. Tyrone Brooks, who spoke Sunday at Ebenezer Baptist Church, a sprawling sanctuary across historic Auburn Avenue from the smaller church of the same name where King first preached about 50 years ago.

The old church, its sign re-lit late last week as part of a $1.8 million renovation, is the focal point in a complex that reveres his memory.

He would urge the nation's leaders to remember that Americans have civil liberties, said Brooks, an Atlanta Democrat.

King would tell them racial profiling -- be it on a sidewalk, a highway or in a line waiting to board an airplane -- is wrong, Brooks said. "He would want peace," said Brooks, 56, who was a teen when he met King and listened in on the minister's planning sessions with other civil rights leaders. "He would want the world's leaders to talk to each other more."

The sign outside the historic Ebenezer Baptist Church was relit recently.  

He would set an example, said Tom Kapellen, a visitor from Plymouth, Wisconsin. He and his daughter, Melissa Kapellen, attended Sunday's service.

"You come down here and you feel the need for better fellowship," said Kapellen, 55, a retired auto-parts salesman. "Just being here is an inspiration."

His daughter, 23, visiting Atlanta to check out a graduate program at Emory University, agreed. "I want to model myself after the brotherhood I've seen here," she said.

There is much to learn from King, said Fabienne Quick, 40, of Kernersville, North Carolina. She and her sister Tanya Craigman, 41, also of Kernersville, came to Atlanta to instill a little education in their sons, Claude Quick, 9, and his cousin, Ricardo Craigman, 14.

Ebenezer's congregation remembers King in a service at the new church Sunday.  

They visited the complex's history center, where old photos and faded signs tell the story of struggle, where newsreels, continuously looping, depict the indignities of Greensboro, North Carolina, and the atrocities of Birmingham, Alabama.

"I think this is a chance for our kids to learn," said Craigman, who slipped an arm around Ricardo, a mass of wiggles in baggy pants. "He talked about nonviolence," said Quick. "He encouraged people of all nationalities to come together.

"He talked about diversity, and that is what makes America."




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