On MLK Day, Dolan, Booker and Dinkins reflect on King's courage, legacy

January 21, 2019 - 11:53 am

NEW YORK (1010 WINS/AP) -- Today is Martin Luther King Jr. day, federal holiday that celebrates King's birthday, honors his legacy and focuses on civil rights. 

And Democratic presidential hopefuls are fanning out across the country to honor the civil rights leader and make themselves heard on the national stage. 

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Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., used the holiday to launch a presidential campaign that, if successful, would make her the first woman and the second black candidate to become president.

And an annual rally to observe King's birthday, held in the capital of South Carolina, a critical early-voting state in the Democratic primary, brought out two senators expected to seek the White House in 2020, Cory Booker of New Jersey and Bernie Sanders of Vermont.

Booker spoke to 1010 WINS on what would have been King's 90th birthday and said, "King said the most urgent and pressing question is, 'What are you doing in the service of others?', and that's the question we all should be asking," Booker said. "Are we engaged in making the loves of others, the loves of our community, our neighborhood better?"

Booker said King was willing call out injustices, "to disturb the comfortable and work to comfort those who are facing disturbing injustice." 

And the senator pointed out that King worked not only to point out civil rights injustices, but economic ones too. 

"That people who work should have jobs with dignity that pay a living wage," Booker said. 

In the nation's capital, former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who is weighing a presidential bid, spoke at a King event alongside former Vice President Joe Biden, who's considering his own 2020 run.

Two candidates who have already opened exploratory committees — Sens. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Kirsten Gillibrand of New York — will also appear at King-centered events.

Mayor Bill de Blasio and First Lady Chirlane McCray paid tribute to King at the Academy of Music in Brooklyn this afternoon. The mayor later spoke at the National Action Network’s Dr. Martin Luther King day celebration in Harlem. Senators Schumer and Gillibrand attended.

Cardinal Timothy Dolan also spoke to 1010 WINS Monday and said King had to endure a lot of violence to advocate for peace and justice.

"He had this kind of like that paradox where he said, 'Guess what? The more I get firebombed, the more I get imprisoned, the more I get spit at the more I know I'm doing the right thing.' Because that's what they did to the prophets of Israel - that's what they did to Jesus himself. That's what gave rise to that fortitude, that courage," Dolan said.

Dolan said King had a penetrating courage about him. 

"To see him walking erect with his head up, saying nothing -- through rocks, through dogs, through fire hoses, through howling mobs -- and just to walk with that amazing serenity," Dolan said, adding that it was faith that carried and energized the civil rights leader. 

Former Mayor David Dinkins also spoke with 1010 WINS about King's legacy.

"We were all impressed by him and his courage and that which he was able to achieve," Dinkins said. 

Dinkins, who was the first black mayor of New York, said King was "everybody's hero" during the turbulent times of the civil rights movement. "What a guy," he said. 

"He insisted that we be treated like everybody else, and it was a particularly difficult time, especially for him in the South," Dinkins said.  

Dinkins said things are better than they used to be but "they're not what they should be, not what they need to be." 

On the 50th anniversary of King's assassination, 1010 WINS also spoke to his son, Martin Luther King III, who said his dad was always jovial and "kind of like our buddy."

King III was 10 years old when his father was fatally shot on April 4, 1968, in Memphis Tennesse while standing on a second-floor balcony of the Lorraine Motel.

This day has also become a day of service for many. 

NYC food bank volunteers
Juliet Papa
The Food Bank for New York City on West 116th Street in Manhattan is hosting "food packing day." 1010 WINS' Juliet Papa spoke to volunteers who spent the day filling food containers with goodies including pasta, meatballs, chickpea salad and grilled veggies.

Volunteers will put together some 1,500 care packages for the needy, Papa reported. On Tuesday, they're setting up at the Barclays Center to distibute meals and services for furloughed federal workers in need.