The footprints of a journalist, a boxer and a crooner were among those added Monday to the International Civil Rights Walk of Fame near the church where the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. preached.
The 13 new honorees include actor Sidney Poitier, singer Tony Bennett, educator Marian Wright Edelman, editor and author Lerone Bennett Jr. and the late boxer Joe Louis.
"The rains will come and wash away the debris, and the winds will come and just blow away the trash, but your footprints and contributions will stand forever," walk creator Xernona Clayton told the inductees.
This is the fourth group to be inducted into the Walk of Fame in the plaza of the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site near downtown Atlanta. The walk, established in 2004, now includes 50 pairs of footprints, marked in granite, from people who organizers call the "foot soldiers" of the civil rights movement.
The walk is a partnership between the Trumpet Awards Foundation and the National Parks Service.
One of this year's inductees, the Rev. Otis Moss Jr., who worked closely with King and his father, told the crowd about a photograph of the slain civil rights leader showing a hole worn through the bottom of his shoe.
"They were worn out marching for a better day," Moss said, standing in front of a glass case with pairs of shoes from each of his fellow honorees.
The need to educate
Edelman, founder of the Children's Defense Fund, reiterated what has become almost a mantra for her life's work: the need to educate low-income children.
"We've got to stop our black boys and girls from going to prison," she said. "We need to be sending them off to Morehouse (College) and Spelman (College), not prison."
Tony Bennett, a supporter of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference that King helped found, said that unless ignorance is eliminated, "this great country will fail."
Poitier did not attend the ceremony because of a scheduling conflict, but he traveled to Atlanta last weekend to be inducted.
Other inductees this year include Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin, civil rights attorney Frankie Muse Freeman, the late Bahama Islands Prime Minister Sir Lynden Pindling, Atlanta physician Dr. Otis W. Smith, U.S. Rep. Maxine Waters, D-California, Richmond, Va., Mayor and former Virginia Gov. L. Douglas Wilder and civil rights activist Jean Childs Young.
Past honorees include media mogul Ted Turner, former President Jimmy Carter, legendary baseball player Henry "Hank" Aaron, and performers Stevie Wonder, Harry Belafonte and Lena Horne.