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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

cmb foelife

January 20th, 2010
12:59 pm

7mile cmb foelife

Chad Hunt

January 19th, 2010
12:12 pm

MLK taught us to love not hate. When someone doesn’t like you try to love them, it’s not easy but very powerful

bella

January 19th, 2010
9:56 am

bella

January 19th, 2010
9:55 am

Martin Luther King was so nice he made his famous speech I Hade A Dream in Washington D.C. He was murted in 1994.

Helenmarie Agan

January 18th, 2010
8:13 pm

I’m a hispanic women living in the Midwest & I’m proud to say that MLK Jr. is one of my hero! What he did in the past affects me & others like me (Hispanics,Indians, Jews). We all walk down the street with our heads held high because of Martin Luther King Jr, & I just want to say thank you!

alexandra

January 18th, 2010
6:19 pm

Happy B-Day Dr.King!!! yOU WERE A GOOD MAN!

cassie

January 18th, 2010
3:55 pm

thank you for giving us the freedom of speech and religion! we can now do anything we want to do. Happy Birthday MLK

Calonie

January 18th, 2010
3:49 pm

This is wonderful. Little children who grew up hearing about Martin Luther King, Jr. and what his missions were get to have the legacy continued in their young lives through his sister, a very close source, speaking to them. They get to keep learning and be inspired to carry the same on.

Audrey Holcomb

January 18th, 2010
3:33 pm

I was very glad to see Dr. King’s sister reading to the children. I hope we know we must all dare to dream and act, that is the only way Dr. King;s dream will be fulfilled.

regine

January 18th, 2010
1:30 pm

martin luther king its great to see people onering the person that set us from being slaves go martin luther king