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04 April 2008
 

 

People in the United States are honoring the memory of civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr., who was assassinated 40 years ago Friday.

In a statement, President Bush said the country mourns the death of one of history’s most consequential advocates for civil rights. He said despite progress, King’s struggle is not yet over.

The Nobel Peace Prize laureate is being honored at events across the country, including in Memphis, Tennessee, where he was shot and killed at the age of 39. Thousands marched through the city to the site of his death at the Lorraine Motel.

Republican presidential candidate John McCain told an audience gathered outside the motel he was wrong to have opposed establishing a federal holiday in honor of Reverend King.

Also in Memphis, Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton said because of King’s work, a woman or an African-American can now become president of the United States.

In Indiana, Democratic rival Barack Obama, who is black, said Friday represents a tragic anniversary for the country.

Martin Luther King Jr. led a non-violent campaign against segregation and discrimination against African Americans during the 1950s and 1960s.

 

His efforts led to the passing of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

The assassination set off riots in more than 100 U.S. cities and ushered in a bitter chapter in race relations in the United States. King was in Memphis supporting striking sanitation workers.

A federal holiday in January honors King.

Some information for this report was provided by AP.

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