JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. -- Gov. Bob Holden and civil rights lawyer Thomas Todd of Chicago joined a few hundred people to celebrate Martin Luther King Jr.'s life Monday and urged all races to work together.
King, the slain civil rights leader, would have turned 73 years old today. This year's national observance of Martin Luther King Jr. Day is next Monday.
In speeches at the annual central Missouri celebration, Holden and Todd said efforts have been made toward equality but work is needed.
"Whether you are black, white, Hispanic or whatever, we all progress together," Holden told the gathering at a Jefferson City hotel. "It's time for Missouri to be part of this 21st century.
"To do that, we need the resources, the talents, the abilities and the dreams of all our citizens."
Holden said King had influenced his life.
"It was truly the tragedies of 1968, when Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy were assassinated, that I truly in my own mind crystalized my thoughts that I was going to proceed to make an effort at a public life," the 53-year-old governor said.
Todd, the first black law professor at Northwestern University in Illinois, said society needs to pay more attention to education to stay true to King's dream.
Education made it possible for King to lead the civil rights movement, Todd said, and young people now need education to fight today's problems. "Education has always made the difference," Todd said. "With education it is difficult, without education it is nearly impossible."
King's dream also focused on equality, Todd said, but not just for blacks.