America Honors Martin Luther King Jr. Legacy

Millions across America remembered the slain civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr., who would have turned 77 on Sunday, with special services, rallies, and seminars.

At the historic Riverside Church in New York City, where King once gave a speech opposing the Vietnam War, hundreds celebrated his legacy with singing and sermons calling for a refocusing on Dr. King’s work.

"My hope is that we don't just get caught up in the celebration of remembrance but that we return to the work that he began," said Martin Luther King III, talking about his father's legacy, according to CBS news. "I don't think the nation has fully absorbed his message."

Meanwhile in Simpsonville, S.C., the Rev. Jesse Jackson reminded Americans that the new and vibrant South was made possible by King’s work, and that he wanted to honor King by bringing economic security to all Americans.

Similar calls for economic security were made by the National Council of Churches, which helped sponsor the Jan 14-16 “Living Wage Days” conference across the nation. The events were organized to inspire, educate and mobilize congregations to support the move to raise minimum wage at the federal and state levels.

"Dr. King was fully committed to low wage working people and their families. There is no better way to celebrate his birthday than to advocate for a raise in the minimum wage so that, in the words of the prophet Amos, justice will roll down like waters and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream," said Rev. Dr. Paul Sherry, coordinator of the Let Justice Roll Living Wage Campaign.

According to an AP-Ipsos poll, most Americans believe there has been significant progress of King’s dream of racial equality. On annual income measures released by the census, blacks have closed the gap considerably with whites in the past few decades. However, many say inequality exists in terms of education and discrimination.

"For a big portion of the African-Americans, there's not better education," said David Bositis, an analyst of black issues for the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, according to AP. "There have been some gains made, but it's uneven. A lot of whites basically say: 'The civil rights movement has been done. I don't want to hear about it anymore.'"

Martin Luther King Jr. was born Jan. 15, 1929. Monday is Martin Luther King Jr. Day, a national holiday.