Americans paused Monday to remember Martin Luther King and his legacy. A commemorative service marking the King holiday was planned at Ebenezer Baptist Church, where King was preacher from 1960 until his assassination in 1968 at age 39, and thousands of people were expected to take part in an afternoon rally and march through downtown Atlanta.
In Washington, President Bush planned to attend an event honoring King at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.
"Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., was a visionary American and a dedicated leader who believed deeply in liberty and dignity for every person," Bush said in a holiday proclamation. "His faith and courage continue to inspire America and the world."
On Sunday, the Rev. Jesse Jackson told a church gathering near Atlanta that war, poverty and social injustice were damaging King's legacy.
"It's easy to admire Dr. King," Jackson told the 650 people at Dixon Grove Baptist Church in Jonesboro. "It's a challenge to follow him."
Jackson, founder and president of the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition, was standing beneath the motel balcony where King was fatally shot in Memphis, Tenn., in 1968.
King, born in Atlanta Jan. 15, 1929, would have turned 76 on Saturday. Jackson said a good birthday present would be for Americans to strive more for financial and social equality.