The shootings in Arizona loomed large as the nation marked the legacy of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., with many speakers drawing on his message of nonviolence and civil discourse as a lesson in the wake of the tragedy.
National and local politicians joined members of the King family Monday at his former church in Atlanta to mark what would have been the civil rights icon's 82nd birthday. King preached at the church from 1960 until his death in 1968.
Attorney General Eric Holder told the audience at Ebenezer Baptist Church that the rampage in Tucson that killed six and seriously wounded Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords is a reminder that King's struggle to promote peace continues.
King's eldest son is expected to address a crowd of hundreds gathered to mark the 25th anniversary of the federal holiday named for his father.
Martin Luther King III, president and chief executive officer of The King Center, will deliver the keynote address at the annual holiday observance in Atlanta.
King is the only American who was not a U.S. president to have a federal holiday named in his honor. He has been recognized on the third Monday in January since 1986.
King would have been 82 January 15. Members of the King family also laid a wreath at the tombs of King and his widow, Coretta Scott King, in honor of the 1964 Nobel Peace Prize winner.
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