New York City, nation honor Martin Luther King Jr. with day of service

NEW YORK (WABC) -- Officials and residents paid tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., during events in New York City and around the country Monday as the nation observed the federal holiday named in his honor -- this year amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Martin Luther King Day is honored with acts of service, which come at a time when so many need the help. Many took time to volunteer, both virtually and in person.

The Brooklyn Academy of Music held its annual tribute to MLK with virtual events rich with a mix of poetry, speeches and art.

City Council Majority Leader Laurie Cumbo pointed out that right now the country is wrestling with some of the same challenges Dr. King faced.

"We reenergized the Civil Rights movement with BLM movement right here in Brooklyn, we mobilized to bring voter turnout to its highest level since 1920," Cumbo said.

"It won't be easy and it won't be immediate, but it is necessary, I know this rebuilding can be done because the arc of the moral universe is long but it bends towards justice," said Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams.

ALSO READ | Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. quotes: Remembering the civil rights leader with his own words

The UJA-Federation of New York held a region-wide MLK Day of Service to support residents in Manhattan, Queens, the Bronx and worldwide by providing help -- including supplying hot meals -- to people experiencing food insecurity, assembling care packages with essentials for homebound seniors and families, and packaging medical supplies for underserved communities in other countries.

Volunteers packed food for City Meals on Wheels for those who are food insecure and for socially isolated seniors in Manhattan, as well as assembling care packages for homebound seniors and single-parent households in Queens.
In the Bronx, volunteers packaged meals to be delivered to people in need worldwide through Rise Against Hunger and packing medical supplies for shipment to underserved communities around the world through the Afya Foundation

President-elect Joe Biden and future First Lady Jill Biden volunteered at a hunger relief event in Philadelphia, while the Presidential Inaugural Committee hosted an event called "United We Serve."

Meanwhile, the coronavirus pandemic forced the annual King Day service at Atlanta's Ebenezer Baptist Church online during the 35th celebration of his birthday as a national holiday. His family was among a sparse group wearing masks and sitting far apart amid mostly empty pews as others delivered remarks remotely.

Bernice King said the toll of the pandemic, lingering outrage over killings of unarmed Black people and the deadly siege in Washington by supporters of President Donald Trump all underscore an urgent need to pursue what her father called "the beloved community" - a world in which conflict is solved nonviolently and compassion dictates policy.

She quoted her father's words from more than 50 years ago: "There is such a thing as being too late."

"We still have a choice today - nonviolent coexistence or violent co-annihilation," Bernice King said, again reciting the words of her father. "This may well be mankind's last chance to choose between chaos and community."

LISTEN | First version of MLK's 'I Have A Dream' speech delivered in North Carolina high school gym

(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

----------
* Get Eyewitness News Delivered
* Follow us on YouTube
* More local news
* Send us a news tip
* Download the abc7NY app for breaking news alerts Submit a News Tip
Copyright © 2021 WABC-TV. All Rights Reserved.