Charlottesville Kicks Off Martin Luther King Jr. Celebrations - NBC29 WVIR Charlottesville, VA News, Sports and Weather

Charlottesville Kicks Off Martin Luther King Jr. Celebrations

Posted: Updated: Jan 13, 2013 10:51 PM EST

Charlottesville and the University of Virginia are kicking off a month of events to honor the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

The 28th Annual MLK Community Celebration was held Sunday night.  The celebration was full of music, prayer, and motivational words to honor the life and achievements of the late civil rights leader.

Former NAACP president and five-term Democratic Congressman Kweisi Mfume wanted to move the audience in his keynote message.

"The worst thing is to do nothing at all, but to be a spectator and to watch things go by," he said. About 400 people from all walks of life filled the sanctuary at Mount Zion First African Baptist Church Sunday night for the community celebration.

Charlottesville leaders such as UVA President Teresa Sullivan and Mayor Satyendra Huja were in the audience.

"This is a kind of multiracial, multiethnic, multireligious message and anytime you can talk about and amplify the life of Dr. King, I think that's a privilege," Mfume said.

People in the pews were on their feet most of the night, moved by the music and memory of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

"There's an African proverb that says that as long as the memory lives, that person lives and so as long as we remember that Dr. King fought for his direction action non-violence, it will make a difference in terms of our community," said Alvin Edwards, Mount Zion First African Baptist Church pastor and MLK Community Celebration Committee chairman.

Mfume hopes his message inspires the Charlottesville community to make a difference and learn from Dr. King's dream.

"The keys are the life of Dr. King was a life of service," Mfume said. "It was a life of pointing out contradictions. It was a life bringing people together, and it was the sort of self-sacrifice all of us could and should at some point in time do."

Edwards also presented the annual community award to retired University of Virginia professor Paul Gaston Sunday night. Gaston's wife, Mary, accepted the honor on his behalf.

This celebration sets the tone for nearly 30 events that will take place this month to honor Dr. King. Click here for the full schedule.

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