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Martin Luther King Jr.'s 'dream' remembered as nation pauses to honor icon

Mike Theiler / Reuters

A family takes a self portrait of themselves at the Martin Luther King Memorial in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 19, 2014.

Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy lives on Monday with special events across the nation, from parades to church tributes to youth-led service projects on the federal holiday to remember the civil rights crusader.

President Obama, first lady Michelle Obama and their daughters took part in a community service event at a Washington, D.C., soup kitchen.

Vice President Joe Biden, meanwhile, spoke at a breakfast hosted by Rev. Al Sharpton’s National Action Network in Washington.

Darrin Phegley / AP

People march down Washington Street toward the Greater Norris Chapel Baptist Church during the Henderson County Black History Committee's Celebration of Martin Luther King Jr's birthday in Henderson, Ky., on Jan. 19, 2014.

King, born Jan. 15, 1929, would have turned 85 this month. A federal holiday is held in his honor every third Monday in January.

In Atlanta, a service was planned at Ebenezer Baptist Church, where King was pastor. In Memphis, Tenn., where King was assassinated in 1968, an audio recording of an interview with King will be played at the National Civil Rights Museum.

The recording sheds new light on a phone call President John F. Kennedy made to King’s wife more than 50 years ago.

Historians generally agree Kennedy’s phone call to Coretta Scott King expressing concern over her husband’s arrest in October 1960 — and Robert Kennedy’s work behind the scenes to get King released — helped JFK win the White House.

King received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964. He was assassinated four years later.

In Ann Arbor, Mich., activist and entertainer Harry Belafonte delivered the keynote address for the 28th annual Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. Symposium on Monday morning at the University of Michigan’s Hill Auditorium.

There was also a call from one of King’s daughters, Bernice King, to make Monday a “no shots fired” day — in support of King’s enduring testament of non-violence.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.