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San Diego Honors Late Martin Luther King Jr. With Events, Celebrations

Numerous events to mark Martin Luther King Jr. Day were held around San Diego today, led off by the 18th annual Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Community Breakfast.

Joanne Bland, founder of the National Voting Rights Museum in Selma, Ala., spoke at the event, discussing "Bloody Sunday,'' the day in 1965 when state troopers and local law enforcement in Selma assaulted more than 500 civil rights demonstrators, injuring more than 50 of them.

In Oceanside, the North San Diego chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People hosted its annual prayer breakfast and birthday celebration for the slain civil rights leader at the Junior Seau Beach Community Center under the Oceanside Pier.

Recently installed San Diego Mayor Bob Filner, who took part in the Freedom Rides in the early days of the civil rights movement, spoke at the 25th annual All People's Celebration at the San Diego Public Market. Beginning in 1961, "freedom riders'' rode buses into the South to challenge segregation laws, and they were frequently met with violence by white supremacists.

"The civil rights movement was not a program handed down on a mountaintop, it had to be developed by people who were leaders and people who had to figure out how to do this thing that would get maximum public support,'' Filner told the audience. "By age 15 I was helping Dr. King organize demonstrations, and by 18 I was in jail.''

Also today, nearly 100 employees of Kaiser Permanente cleaned, sorted, bagged and boxed food items at the San Diego Food Bank for distribution to the needy, while several dozen union members cleaned litter from Parkside Park and the surrounding neighborhood in Paradise Hills.

Members of seven area church groups came together to pick up trash in Balboa Park.

"I think this is just a practical way to go out and serve somebody, to devote your life to helping others,'' Robert Carrillo told NBC7/39.

April Murdock told the station it was also a good way to get to know each, share experiences and backgrounds and "build bridges.''

Radio station Star 94.1 hosted a blood drive for the San Diego Blood Bank at the San Diego Hall of Champions in Balboa Park.

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