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Harlem Church Celebrates Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

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Convent Avenue Baptist Church has been in Harlem for 114 years and is the site of the oldest Dr. King celebration in the city, and those who attended Monday's ceremony were not only celebrating the life of Dr. King, but also part of his dream realized. NY1's Erin Clarke filed the following report.

They might be singing a little louder or clapping a bit harder this Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, because the second inauguration of the country's first black president falls on the holiday in which a man who devoted his life to racial equality is honored.

"Martin Luther King treaded the waters for Barack Obama to come and swim across," said Betty Spencer, a member of the Union Baptist Church.

Convent Avenue Baptist Church, like it does every year, celebrated Dr. King's life and legacy. The celebration here is the oldest in the city.

"The fight to get King's holiday national, this started in this church before the national holiday was approved," said Vicky Gholson, a member of the Convent Avenue Baptist Church.

Though the pews were missing a few regulars this year because many attended the inauguration in Washington D.C. or watched at home, the church was still filled with music and sermon celebrating how far America has come in achieving King's dream.

"What he believed in, if you look around today, it's changed the world," said Anthony Hyman, a member of the Convent Avenue Baptist Church. "And like the preacher said today, there is nowhere that you can go in this world where you don't hear that name. So he's done a lot."

The audience was also reminded that there is still much work to be done.

"There's also the localized level of the common person that's reflected in this and through this celebration so that we don't lose sight and think that because of the accomplishments of a few, that it's generalized to the many," said Shellie Sampson of the Baptist Ministers' Conference of Greater New York.

That's why those who attended Monday's celebration came out. They said that Dr. King Day isn't just a day off, but a day to reflect on what has been accomplished and come together to make change for the future, to continue to live Dr. King's dream.

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