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Boston Globe: Activists, elected officials honor King’s legacy

Across Boston on Monday, elected officials and activists called for social justice and equality of opportunity, evoking the legacy and principles of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in speeches and demonstrations around the city.

On the national holiday to honor King, a host of elected officials called for equal access to housing, jobs, health care and education before the annual breakfast of nearly 1,000 at the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center. Later in the day, demonstrators marched through the city down William J. Day Boulevard, protesting police action and calling for a higher minimum wage.

Although the breakfast-goers also heard from Governor Charlie Baker Mayor Martin J. Walsh, and US Senator Elizabeth Warren, it was US Senator Edward J. Markey who brought the crowd to its feet.

The Bay State’s junior senator delivered a passionate soliloquy that called for reform on issues that ranged from voting rights to drug addiction to wage disparity to access to education.

“It is no wonder that so many families who try to climb to the mountain top feel like they’re just walking in place,” said Markey, echoing words from the speech King delivered the night before he was assassinated in Memphis in 1968.

The senator called the three strikes prison sentencing law a “historic mistake” and the response to heroin and prescription drug addiction a “national disgrace.” He demanded closure of three gun purchasing loopholes and said the fact that African Americans die from certain diseases at higher rates is “shameful.”