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Sam Penrod ReportingDr. King's birthday was observed in Utah today during a luncheon sponsored by the Salt Lake Chapter of the NAACP.
This is the fifth year that the State of Utah has recognized this holiday in honor of Dr. King--previously the state celebrated this holiday as Human Rights Day. And the NAACP's tradition of having a memorial luncheon to remember Dr. King's legacy continued this afternoon at the Grand America Hotel.
The Salt Lake Branch honored two Utahns for their service in Utah's ethnic communities. Juvenile Court Judge Andrew Valdez was honored with the Dr. Martin Luther King award for his efforts to promote diversity in Utah.
And 82-year old Eva Sexton was given the Rosa Parks Award. Sexton has helped to raise 112 foster children--all of different cultural backgrounds.
Eva Sexton, Award Recipient: “I’ve gotten just as much from children down through the generations, keeping up with generation from generation as it changes in the generations. And also, they give me just as much as I give them.”
Judge Andrew Valdez, Award Recipient: "You know what inspired me with dr. King was that he did define equality as it is, what it is as opposed to improvement. Certainly I don't want to discount the improvements that we have had because we have had enormous improvement, but there is work to be done, with respect to equality and treatment, equality and respect, equality and dignity and equality in justice."
Today's luncheon also attracted government leaders, such as Governor Olene Walker and Congressman Jim Matheson, as well as community leaders
Tonight on the BYU Campus, a candlelight walk and memorial program will honor the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Elsewhere in the U.S. Americans paused today to remember the man who "had a dream."
In Atlanta, Reverend Martin Luther King Junior's widow delivered her annual address at the church where her husband preached until his assassination in 1968. She called for peace overseas and at home. And she wished for a reconciliation between political parties this election year.
In Memphis, Tennesse, about two-hundred people marched in a parade in the city where the civil rights leader lost his life. Participants stopped at a brief rally where a speaker urged them to carry on King's work by helping the less fortunate and continuing the struggle for civil rights.
Moving West, in San Antonio, Texas, thousands recognized the life and legacy left by Dr. Martin Luther King Junior. Police estimate as many as 70,000 people walked through the streets in what's traditionally among the largest King Holiday celebrations in the country. The three mile route ended at a podium where poets, choirs and ministers honored the memory of King.