The Reverend Martin Luther King Junior is remembered today for his dedication to racial equality and social justice. Many groups across North Carolina are gathering to march, pray, and volunteer in their communities.
Students and faculty from Duke and NC Central Universities and Durham Technical Community College will gather to assemble dry food packages for Stop Hunger Now. That organization provides food aid to disaster victims around the world.
Deborah Brame is coordinating the volunteers from NC Central. She says the effort upholds King's legacy. For one thing, the volunteers come from a range of backgrounds.
“There are a lot of people that are in need. And then there are a lot of people that just need to come together for one common goal, and that is to help one another,” Brame said. “And we do it because want to, not because we're forced to do something like this. We want to make this place, this world, better for other people.”
The student groups hope to package at least 100,000 meals for people in need.
King also advocated for justice in access to medicine, and the non-profit Enroll America is setting up tables in Raleigh and Durham today to help residents enroll for coverage under the Affordable Care Act. State Director Sorien Schmidt says helping people sign up for insurance further's King's legacy.
“Martin Luther King believed strongly that people should have justice in health care. And so, we are excited that, with the advent of the new marketplace, and the financial help that many people qualify for to pay for their insurance, that this is one step closer to helping people achieve that goal and that dream.”
Schmidt says her group will help people enroll for coverage and find any subsidies they're eligible for. The US Department of Health and Human Services says 89-percent of the 107,000 North Carolinians who signed up for coverage by late December received financial help.
North Carolina Moms Rising advocates for family-friendly policies, including economic security and access to education and healthcare. The group will host a Martin Luther King birthday celebration for children at North Gate Mall in Durham this morning. Guest speaker Charmaine McKissick-Melton will talk to kids about her experiences as one of the first students to desegregate Durham Public Schools.
Jessica Nakell Burroughs of Moms Rising says she wants children to learn that the civil rights movement hasn’t be relegated to history.
“The heroes of the civil rights movement are still alive and here,” Burroughs said. “I also want to show them that the civil rights movement is not over.”
Burroughs asks families to donate packs of new underwear and non-perishable food, which will be donated to Urban Ministries of Durham.
More information about today’s events can be found at the new Triangle Marking Luther King, Jr. Committee web site.