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PHOTOS: Happy birthday, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

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Chistine King Farris reads "My Brother Martin" to children at the Martin Luther King Jr. Historic Site. AJC/Jamie Gumbrecht

People all over the world will commemorate Martin Luther King Jr.’s 81st birthday this weekend with ceremony and service, but only in Atlanta can dozens of kids celebrate with birthday cake and a story read by King’s older sister, Christine King Farris.

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King Farris reads from "My Brother Martin," filling in details between the words on the page.

Kids from pre-school to third grade gathered at the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site  this morning to see a puppet show about how life has changed for black children since King was a boy, and to hear “My Brother Martin.” (Teachers went home with free copies of the book for their classrooms or libraries, too.)

The kids asked a lot of questions that remind how time and history look different when you’re a kid: What happened to Martin Luther King Jr.’s parents? Do his kids live with his sister? Was he a slave?

The very first question, though, was repeated over and over: Why did Dr. Martin Luther King die? It’s hard to make sense of it when you’re young. Farris King and Park rangers agreed that it’s hard when you’re older, too.

Farris King ended her reading with a poem about her brother’s intelligence, hard work and big dreams. She asked the kids to say the refrain with her.

You can be like Martin, yes you can. You can be like Martin, yes you can.

She kept on them till they were screaming it: “You can be like Martin, yes you can.”

“And you believe that.”

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Kids waited for slices of chocolate and vanilla birthday cake for Martin Luther King Jr. AJC/Jamie Gumbrecht

Want to go? Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site has several events and tours to celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day. 9 a.m.-5 p.m. daily. Free. Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site, 450 Auburn Ave., Atlanta. 404-331-5190, www.nps.gov/malu.

22 comments Add your comment

Marc

January 18th, 2010
12:44 pm

Im thrilled at the reading happening here and auditiorium stlye to capture and maintain attention and thankfull passing along such important history to the future of our blessed country!

tina southland

January 18th, 2010
10:08 am

happy birthday dr.king !!!!!!!! i really appreiciate you getting the blacks out of slavery. i want to say again happy birthday to you up in haven if you were hear right now i would really like for you to read this letter i wrote.

tina southland

January 18th, 2010
10:02 am

i am really intertained in what your church did i know that other chuches did it to but i dont think they would have cake likethe way yorur chuch did i am really amazed.

anayansi

January 18th, 2010
4:15 am

Martin luther king jr. Wherever you are I want to thank you for being a strong human. You change many life. You taught so many people that we are the same no matter the race or color. We are equal. If someone need you give them love, give them love. If someone need you give them love. It doesn’t matter the race or color of the skin, we have to love everyone like brothers and do good.

alexandra

January 15th, 2010
11:19 pm

i just want to say to the king family may god bless you god will make a way out of no way and to all of the people that are reading if your going through just let go and let god i admire dr.king the best i can words can not describe how i feel about him his family how lucky are we to live in such a nation when we have people care enough to help blacks and whites come together as 1 we are blessed god got our backes alright gd bless you all

[...] (Though the country celebrates on Monday.) [...]

shardez griffen

January 15th, 2010
8:35 pm

marin luther king was a good man

julina

January 15th, 2010
8:12 pm

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malama

January 15th, 2010
5:56 pm

happy birthday to you. just to thank god for adding more days in your life. and remember that god is always on your side in your times of need. he’s your helper, your healer, and your everything. so yes, may the lord add some more days in your life and his blessings over you. god bless.

by:malama.togia

Dan

January 15th, 2010
4:28 pm

good for her at that age.
At least some member of the King family is doing something positive