Several thousand gathered in downtown Meridian for a parade and a program to honor the memory of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on Monday, a national holiday.
People bundled up and braved cold temperatures to sing, pray and celebrate the slain civil rights leader who sought social change through peaceful protest.
Programs like this were duplicated in cities and towns across the nation.
A university professor and Starkville native said that celebrating Martin Luther King, Jr.’s life and legacy now is much easier than it was marching walking with him four decades ago.
Lucius Turner Outlaw, Jr., of Vanderbilt University spoke Monday morning at the 11th Annual Martin Luther King Unity Breakfast at Mississippi State University in Starkville.
Outlaw said that white and black community and church leaders in Starkville lacked the courage to support King's beliefs during the civil rights movement.
King, born in Atlanta, would have turned 76 on Saturday. He was assassinated April 4, 1968, outside a Memphis, Tennessee hotel. He was 39.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.