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49 States, Territories, 100 Countries Honor King

By Rudi Williams
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Jan. 9, 1998 – More than 100 countries, 49 states and U.S. territories honor Martin Luther King Jr., said Steve Kline of the Martin Luther King Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change in Atlanta.

"Every major city in America has a street, building, park, plaza, library, hospital, school and other public facilities name in Dr. King's honor," Kline said. "The same is true in many foreign countries."

There's an 11-foot bronze statue of King near the main entrance to City Hall in San Bernardino, Calif., he noted.

A letter from King's widow, Coretta Scott King, was read during the unveiling on Nov. 8, 1981. She stated in part: "More than ever, our society and particularly our young people, need nonviolent role models. Your statue will undoubtedly serve as a reminder of this responsibility."

Raleigh, N.C., boasts the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Gardens with a life-sized statue of the national civil rights leader. The statue is encircled with a colorful variety of trees, shrubs and flowering plants. The King Wall surrounds the statue and includes 2,500 bricks inscribed with the names of supporters.

At Atlanta's Morehouse College, a statue of King sits in front of the Martin Luther King Jr. International Chapel. On the marble walls of the chapel foyer and on the base of the bronze statue are engraved quotations from King's speeches that keep before students and other observers the ideas and ideals of Dr. King.

"From Morehouse College he launched his humanitarian pilgrimage to create the beloved community and for that purpose he moved out from the classroom and his pulpit to march his way into immortality," is inscribed on the base of the statue.

King received a bachelor's degree in sociology from Morehouse in 1948 at the age of 19.

"Birds in Flight" is the title of a memorial to King at Boston University where he received his doctorate of divinity in 1955. The piece is composed of 50 birds in flight signifying peace throughout the nation. There is also a multicultural center for students of all races and ethnic groups on the university's campus.

In 1968, Sweden dedicated Martin Luther King Jr. Plaza opposite the University of Uppsala, which dates back to the 1500s, said Ann-Marie Brisbois, an information assistant at the Swedish Embassy in Washington.

"In April 1978, a monument was unveiled in the plaza to commemorate the 10th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.'s death," said Brisbois. "The bronze sculpture, entitled Befrielsen, or 'Liberation' is the creation of Sweden's Olof Hellstrom. It portrays two gigantic hands pulling apart two equally large prison bars."

Kline said, "When Daddy King (the late Martin Luther King Sr.) visited Hungary a few years ago, he was flabbergasted to find six churches named after his son. "There is also a big Martin Luther King Jr. town square in Russia. In Mexico City, there is a park, statue and street bearing Dr. King's name. And there's a King museum in New Delhi, India.

He said many countries are creating postage stamps in honor of Dr. King -- Liberia, Venezuela, Republique du Congo, Ecuador, India, Chad, Paraguay, Niger, Virgin Islands, Senegal, Yemen Arab Republic, Samoa. The United States produced a Martin Luther King Jr. stamp in 1979.

King's speeches and sermons have been translated into every major language, Kline noted. "The King legacy is a growing phenomenon," Kline said. "People fighting for human rights sing 'We Shall Overcome all over the world -- Poland, Hungary, the Philippines, China, the Palestinians. The solidarity movement in Poland studied the Selma to Montgomery film. Pro-democratic and freedom movements around the world, including China, draw from Martin Luther King Jr. and Ghandi and they're achieving results."

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