ATLANTA — Commemorative events for the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. slid seamlessly into celebrations of the swearing-in Monday of the nation’s first black president, with many Americans moved by the reminder of how far the country has come since the 1960s.
“This is the dream that Dr. King talked about in his speech. We see history in the making,” said Joyce Oliver, who observed King Day by visiting the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, Tenn., built on the site of the old Lorraine Motel, where King was assassinated in 1968.
In Atlanta, at the 45th annual service for the civil rights leader at the church where he was pastor, those gathered in the sanctuary were invited to stay to watch President Barack Obama’s second inauguration on a big-screen TV.
In the nation’s capital, dozens took pictures of the King statue before walking to the National Mall for the inauguration.
Around the country, parades, service projects and memorials marked the holiday.
Visitors from as far as Europe thronged the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis. In Detroit, students beautified schools. Others painted murals honoring King in Arkansas, donated items to a food bank in Texas, and conducted a community health fair in Pennsylvania.
More than 500 people rallied outside the Alabama Capitol in Montgomery, where state employee Jessie Harris declared Obama’s presidency a sign of progress in “living the dream” that King spoke about.
“We have come far, but the struggle is not over,” Harris said.