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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

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

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

julina

January 15th, 2010
8:12 pm

Enter your comments here

shardez griffen

January 15th, 2010
8:35 pm

marin luther king was a good man

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

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

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.

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.

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.

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!

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

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.

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.

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

alexandra

January 18th, 2010
6:19 pm

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

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!

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.

bella

January 19th, 2010
9:56 am

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

cmb foelife

January 20th, 2010
12:59 pm

7mile cmb foelife

cmb foelife

January 20th, 2010
1:01 pm

mlk u da man no homo ya digg

rilie

January 21st, 2010
9:17 pm

dr.king is a great man.