Gov. Nathan Deal, House Speaker David Ralston, Secretary of State Brian Kemp and Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed invoked King’s message of justice and equality. Deal presented a proclamation to Christine King Farris, King’s only living sibling.
“Dr. King gave his life for a cause that provided dignity and opportunity for millions of men, women and children, not only in his day, but in ours,” Deal told the crowd gathered at the Capitol not far from where a portrait of the 1965 Nobel Peace Prize winner hangs. “Almost half a century after his death, our nation continues to measure King’s work and his impact on the world. The passing of time has served only to illustrate the greatness of this man.”
King’s actual birthday is Jan. 15. The Georgia native, who was born in Atlanta, would have been 83 years old. Thursday’s ceremony was the 27th annual Martin Luther King Jr. holiday tribute at the Capitol.
Reed reminded the audience that many of King’s colleagues in the civil rights movement could be found not in history books, but around town.
“Those who stood on the frontlines of freedom are still among us,” Reed said. “That’s something Atlantans take for granted.”
Kemp said King’s efforts affected politics, but also “transcended the day-to-day issues in the political arena.”
“The efforts of Dr. King, his associates and followers to shine a light on racist and unconstitutional laws were certainly significant and lasting feats, particularly in the face of entrenched hate and violence,” Kemp said. “I’m equally thankful for the opportunities we all have to work together, break bread together, laugh and cry together and pray together, thanks to our late fellow Georgian, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.”