COLUMBIA - The city of Columbia kicked off its Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. birthday celebration Thursday with the "Columbia Values Diversity" breakfast. The celebration included a keynote address by Martin Luther King III, son of the slain civil rights leader, and an artistic performance by MU professor Clyde Ruffin.
The performance was directed by Ruffin and included music sung by the Columbia Diversity choir and experts on King's "I Have a Dream" speech.
After the performance, Martin Luther King III took the stage and spoke about his father and issues he said America faces today.
"It took 20 precious children and 6 adults deaths before the nation said we have to do something about gun control," said King.
"Six out of ten cartoons and TV shows are violent. We've created a culture of violence and we embrace it instead of saying how do we create a culture of non violence?"
King went on to say he hopes people do not celebrate his father's birthday as a typical holiday by resting and relaxing, but said he hopes people will continue to the fight for equality.
King also said that his father's birthday this year is special because it falls on President Obama's inauguration day.
Diversity award winners were also honored at the breakfast. Job Point won the group award and Tyree Byndom won the individual award.
The celebration of King's birthday continues on Monday with the "Poor People's Breakfast" and the Annual Candlelight Walk.