HAMPTON ROADS, Va. (WAVY) — People across the nation and locally honored the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Monday.
Many local school districts, businesses and government offices are closed across Hampton Roads in observance of the holiday.
A wreath-laying ceremony took place on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. The National Action Network hosted its annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Breakfast in the nation’s capital. Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe was in attendance.
Locally, there were several events held Monday for the holiday.
One day after what would have been Dr. Martin L. King Jr.’s 88th birthday, citizens of Norfolk packed the Attucks Theatre in memory of the civil rights leader.
Norfolk City Councilwoman Angelia Williams Graves was one of several city leaders who addressed the audience.
“He was a man who loved God and loved his family, and who was called by God, not only to preach the gospel, but also to lead people,” she said of King. “We have to look at ourselves, and wonder and ask ourselves, what are we doing? What kind of legacy are we leaving? What kind of mark are we making on our community?”
Norfolk Police Chief Larry Boone said King “propelled a movement that will forever impact this nation.”
Emma Robinson, of Virginia Beach, attended the event with her church, with a sign that read, “Standing on the side of love.”
“Martin Luther King represented peace and love and trying to make it a better place for everyone. It wasn’t just about African Americans. He knew the effect of racism and poverty and sexism and all of that on all people,” she said.
Following the ceremony, the crowd gathered, some arm in arm, others singing, to make the short walk up Church Street to Dr. King’s memorial. There, Mayor Kenneth Alexander placed a wreath, before calling on Norfolk’s citizens to get involved.
“Find a place to serve to do some volunteerism, to give back to the city. Don’t ask what the city can do for you, but find something that you can do for the city to make Norfolk the best place to live, work, and to raise a child,” he said.
The group Teens With a Purpose, First Baptist Church of Lambert’s Point, and Rev. John Burton of St. John’s AME Church also participated in the ceremony.
The Urban League of Hampton Roads held its 33rd Annual breakfast Monday morning at the Virginia Beach Convention Center, near the Oceanfront.
WAVY-TV was proud to be one of the sponsors and 10 On Your Side anchor Anita Blanton had the honor of emceeing the event.
The theme of the breakfast was “the courage of love.”
Each year, local community leaders are honored at the event for trying to walk in the footsteps of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
At Monday’s breakfast, awards were given out for community service in areas such as education, employment, health, and housing. Lois Boyle, founder of Access Virginia, was one of the recipients.
Hampton University hosted its annual free MLK march and program Monday morning.
An HU professor at the event told 10 On Your Side that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day is really about honoring all of the players in the civil rights movement and the fact that the work they began so many years ago is still not done.
“We still don’t have full equality in the U.s. for people of color, low income women, so we try to have these events to remind ourselves that the struggle is still present and still real,” said psychology Professor Kwame Brown.
The keynote speaker of the march was Ambassador Dr. Michael Anthony Battle, Sr., whose work mirrors Dr. King’s by emphasizing the links between churches and other groups.
More than 100 volunteers also gathered at the North Phoebus Community Center to scrub, paint and pick up trash.
Newport News Mayor McKinley Price and other city leaders hosted a food drive Monday. City leaders were at the Food Bank on Aluminum Avenue collecting donations. They encouraged residents to honor Dr. King’s legacy of service in helping replenish the Food Bank’s food supply after the holidays.
A full list of local events and MLK Day closures can be found on hrScene.com.