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Events honoring Martin Luther King in Michigan focus on hope for better world, local efforts

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LANSING, Michigan — Events around Michigan to honor Martin Luther King Jr. on Monday focused on the civil rights leader's hope for a better world and local efforts to improve the state's communities.

King's dream included a world "where every person is treated with the respect and dignity that they deserve," said Gov. Rick Snyder. He said the holiday is an important time to remember King's legacy.

"Dr. King inspired us to help those in need, to respond when we saw injustice, and to speak up against all forms of discrimination. He fought for justice and opportunity for every American," Snyder said in a statement.

"He demonstrated the value of peace, honesty, freedom, equality and community service. Still, to this day, Dr. King's vision of a more perfect union encourages and guides us in addressing the challenges of our communities," the governor said.

In Southfield, Aretha Franklin played the piano as she sang "Amazing Grace" at a ceremony that followed a peace walk in the Detroit suburb honoring King.

"It's because of him that we enjoy many of the things that we enjoy today," the Queen of Soul told WXYZ-TV.

Sybrina Fulton, the mother of Trayvon Martin, spoke Monday at Grand Valley State University's Fieldhouse Arena in Allendale. Her 17-year-old son was fatally shot in 2012 by a Florida neighborhood watch volunteer, sparking widespread protests.

PHOTO: Demonstrators march in observation of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Monday, Jan. 19, 2015, in Kalamazoo, Mich. (AP Photo/Kalamazoo Gazette-MLive Media Group, Christian Randolph)
Demonstrators march in observation of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Monday, Jan. 19, 2015, in Kalamazoo, Mich. (AP Photo/Kalamazoo Gazette-MLive Media Group, Christian Randolph)

"I think what people need to do is they need to remember what Dr. King stood for and kind of pattern themselves after Dr. King because Dr. King led a movement," said Fulton. "Now we have to continue that movement, we have to continue to those dreams."

In Muskegon on Sunday, about 100 people marched to Mount Zion Church of God in Christ, The Muskegon Chronicle reported.

Senior Pastor Mark Miller of Muskegon's Central United Methodist Church said the day serves as a reminder that people from different backgrounds can stand together to support a common cause, but warned against complacency.

"When you think about it, maybe it's kind of sad how far we haven't come," he said. "There's still a lot of work to be done for us to break down those barriers that divide us — and a lot of barriers."

In Bay County's Hampton Township, people turned out Sunday to hear readings of some of King's speeches during an event, "A Salute to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.," The Bay City Times reported.

In Flint, University of Michigan students wore T-shirts saying "More than a day, a year of expression" as they participated in service projects with Habitat for Humanity, Carriage Town Ministries, Crossover Ministries, the Humane Society, North End Soup Kitchen and Whaley Children's Center.

New Michigan Supreme Court Justice Richard Bernstein spoke of the challenges of being blind in his speech to 400 people at Macomb County's 10th Annual Martin Luther King Jr. Community Fellowship Breakfast in Harrison Township.

"Happiness is having a sense of who you are," Bernstein said. "Happiness is knowing why God created you."

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PHOTO: Demonstrators march in observation of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Monday, Jan. 19, 2015, in Kalamazoo, Mich. (AP Photo/Kalamazoo Gazette-MLive Media Group, Christian Randolph)
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