While many Chicagoans marked the celebration of his legacy by attending the usual events and exhibitions, others decided to remember the slain civil rights leader with a traditional day of service. Habitat at Humanity Chicago volunteers took King's call to service literally by giving back. They painted Southstar Services in south suburban Chicago Heights. The organization has provided programs for the developmentally disabled for more than 60 years.
Martin Luther King Day became a federal holiday in 1986. Earlier at the 22nd annual PUSH for Excellence Scholarship Breakfast, the public, politicians and others marked what would have been King's 83rd birthday and how large gaps in wealth and education still remain among racial and socio-economic lines.
"In his final days on this earth, he was organizing the poor peoples' campaign, a campaign that must go on," Gov. Pat Quinn said.
Rainbow PUSH founder the Reverend Jesse Jackson spent the night at a homeless shelter before attending Monday's event to highlight the theme of poverty awareness at this year's event.
"There's a growing desperation in the face of our economy. Dr. King warned us of the challenge of too few having too much," Rev. Jackson said.
Martin Luther King Junior was a Baptist preacher who advocated for non-violence. He was assassinated in 1968. A sculpture at DuSable Museum celebrates of Dr. King's dream. Deeply Rooted, a fiberglass piece by the late artist Frank Hayden, was officially unveiled Monday afternoon.
"It has embedded on the face, King quotes from him. It has outstretched hands that recognize all the people that contributed to the struggle that is embodied in this one man," Dr. Carol Adams, DuSable Museum, said.