Martin Luther King Jr. honored on annual holiday

Photo: Associated Press

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Thousands made the pilgrimage to the MLK Memorial on the Tidal Basin to celebrate his birthday.

Brandi Bispham made the trek from Washington state with her family, hoping to have her kids witness the inauguration and honor Dr. King.

“There's no reason they can't be president, do anything,” she says. “And Dr. King started all of that.”

It wasn't just here at the memorial but all across the area, many took time today to remember Dr. King.

Nearly a thousand people gathered in Greenbelt Monday morning for the 30th Annual United Negro College Fund MLK Day breakfast. Among them was one of Dr. King's childhood classmates, 94-year-old Ernest Wagner.

“I'm glad to celebrate the day, and of course, I think about Martin,” Wagner says.

Mary Smith, 95, vividly remembers watching King's march on Washington speech.

“And then I was just so far away, I had to stand on my tip toe just to try to get a view,” Smith says. “But I still have pictures and souvenirs.”

Wilbur Cole, a 52-year-old postman from Germantown, said the inauguration adds to the recognition of the King holiday, especially in Memphis. King and Obama, he said, "are the great men of this era."

Joyce Oliver said she came to the museum Monday to enjoy a slice of history and that the inauguration sheds more light on the King holiday and his legacy.

"This is the dream that Dr. King talked about in his speech," Oliver said. "We see history in the making. This is the second term for a black president. This is something he spoke about, that all races come together as one."