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King's death remembered with ceremony

Martin Luther King Jr.'s family denounces a Georgia measure that would require voters to show a picture ID, at wreath-laying ceremony marking the anniversary of the murder of the civil rights leader.
/ Source: The Associated Press

Saying racism still exists, civil rights activists marked the Monday anniversary of the murder of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. by denouncing a Georgia measure that would require voters to show a picture ID.

At a wreath-laying ceremony at King's Atlanta tomb, preachers and members of King's family criticized the voting bill approved last week by Georgia's GOP-led Legislature as an attempt to suppress minority voting.

"We live in a state where our vote can be suppressed, oppressed and repressed," said Martin Luther King III, King's son.

The bill, which Republican sponsors say is intended to prevent voter fraud, still must be signed by Republican Gov. Sonny Perdue.

King's widow, Coretta Scott King, also blasted the bill _ which eliminates Social Security cards, birth certificates and other documents from the list accepted at the polls.

"Despite the gains we've made toward achieving racial equality, racism still exists," she said.

Also at the ceremony, preachers led about 200 people gathered in versions of civil rights-era spirituals that inserted Perdue's name and other references to Republicans.

King was killed by a sniper's bullet on April 4, 1968, in Memphis, Tenn., where he'd traveled to support sanitation workers who'd gone on strike.

Fred Curry, who came to the ceremony from Memphis, remembered being in eighth grade and hearing word that King had been shot.

"I thought the world was coming to an end," he said. "You could feel the anticipation that things were going to get better. And then he was assassinated, and there were riots and fires and looting. It was chaos."

After the wreath-laying, activists planned to drive 50 miles east to Monroe to call for criminal charges in a decades-old lynching there that remains unsolved.

Two black couples were pulled from a car and shot to death near the banks of the Apalachee River in 1946. A federal investigation at the time tallied more than 50 possible suspects, but no one was ever charged.

A march was led to the site of the lynchings, Moore's Ford bridge, on Saturday to call for fresh indictments.