ATLANTA—"Bold, audacious" action is needed to make sure society really heeds the message of slain Black civil rights leader the Rev. Martin Luther King, including pressing for more aid to victims of Hurricane Katrina, Mayor Shirley Franklin said Monday.
"It is our time to step up to the plate as we have done in the past to lead this country and world by example," Franklin said at the King Day service at Ebenezer Baptist Church, where King once preached.
Franklin called on Atlantans to make a personal commitment to help those in need, including hurricane victims, and to "comprehend the full message of Dr. King."
"Employ a homeless man or woman," she said. "Sponsor a homeless family. Give a convicted felon who has served his time another chance."
"This, Atlanta, is a time for rigorous and vigorous positive action ... bold, audacious, courageous, persistent" action, she said.
Americans marked the holiday day across the country with services and volunteer projects to aid communities. King would have turned 77 on Sunday. He was shot to death in 1968.
In Columbia, S.C., hundreds of people crowded into Zion Baptist Church to kick off a march to the Statehouse for the annual King Day rally.
"Martin Luther King had a dream. Some 38 years later, how much progress have we really made toward living that dream?" the Rev. Charles Jackson asked the crowd.
In Philadelphia, organizers of the Martin Luther King Day of Service were expecting thousands of volunteers to help with 600 projects in the area.
Among them: the building of a house that will be trucked to Lafayette, La., for a family left homeless by Katrina and construction of a two-story playground house. Volunteers also were working to provide meals to people living with HIV and AIDS.
In Washington, President George W. Bush marked the holiday by taking in a gospel performance and viewing the 1863 document that declared an end to slavery in the United States, the Emancipation Proclamation. The fragile document, usually kept in storage for preservation, was on display for just four days at the National Archives.
— The Associated Press