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Columbia celebrates Martin Luther King Jr. Day

Hundreds gathered in Columbia to celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day. A prevailing thought throughout the day is that it’s been a difficult year in Missouri, especially in and around Ferguson. However, many said that Missouri can move forward in a peaceful way just like Dr. King did during his fight for civil rights.

Similar to years past, song and prayer filled the sanctuary of the Second Baptist Church on the day honoring King — but this year, many sitting in the pews said something is different. “With everything, the killing over in Paris — just the different things that happening in Ferguson and the different marches. So, yes, this was as significant day, today,” said Fran Tibbs, who attended the Second Baptist Church celebration.

The day started at the MLK monument at the Battle-King Memorial. Gov. Jay Nixon and Mayor Bob McDavid along with other leaders spoke to the crowd about the importance of the day. Nixon said the country has made a lot of progress on equality, but there’s still work to be done — a sentiment shared by many throughout the day.

The celebration moved to Second Baptist Church in downtown Columbia. The Rev. Charles Howard gave an impassioned sermon. He said now more than ever — people need to remember the words of Dr. King. “We need leaders to stand up and to channel people’s anger in a positive direction and that is exactly what Dr. King was so instrumental at doing — galvanizing people, not once again like I said, not inciting them to riot but inspiring them to take action,” said Rev. Howard, pastor of AGAPE Love Faith Church.

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