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NAACP of Oak Ridge hosts prayer breakfast and vigil for Martin Luther King, Jr.

The NAACP of Oak Ridge hosted the events at the Oak Valley Baptist Church on Monday.

OAK RIDGE, Tenn. — Groups gathered at an Oak Ridge church on Monday to celebrate and honor the legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr. — one of the most historic civil rights advocates in U.S. history.

The NAACP of Oak Ridge hosted a prayer breakfast and vigil at Oak Valley Baptist Church where they paid tribute to Martin Luther King, Jr. through speeches, songs, poetry and testimonials.

"The MLK holiday is not to be taken as a day off, but a day on, and this is our way of making sure that it's a day on," said Derrick Hammond, the pastor at Oak Valley Baptist Church.

King, Jr. was born on Jan. 15, 1929. He rose to prominence during the Civil Rights Movement when thousands of communities pushed against laws requiring segregation and called for equality across the country. In September 1954, he started a pastorate in Montgomery, Alabama.

Four days after Rosa Parks was arrested for refusing to leave her seat on a Montgomery bus in December 1955, King, Jr. was elected president of the newly-formed Montgomery Improvement Association.

Around a month later, in January 1956, his home was bombed. He later spoke with an angry crowd that gathered outside the home, where he pleaded for nonviolence, according to the King Institute at Stanford

In January 1957, King, Jr. was named the chairman of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. In May 1957, he gave his first national address at the Prayer Pilgrimage for Freedom, named "Give Us The Ballot."

Later, during a September 1958 book signing, he was stabbed by Izola Ware Curry in New York City and was taken to Harlem Hospital, where doctors removed a 7-inch letter opener from his chest.

In the time after that, he routinely appeared at events and advocated for civil rights, and was arrested many times after that as well. In April 1963, he wrote his famous "Letter from Birmingham Jail" as a response to eight Jewish and Christian clergymen's statements that Black communities would wait patiently for justice.

Later that year, in October 1963, the FBI was authorized to wiretap his home phone. In November 1964, King criticized the FBI for failing to protect civil rights workers.

Four years later, on April 4, 1968, Martin Luther King, Jr. was shot and killed while standing on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel in Memphis. James Earl Ray, an escaped fugitive, later confessed to the crime and was sentenced to 99 years in prison.

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