The day kicked off in Durham with the 32nd Annual MLK Triangle Interfaith Prayer Breakfast. North Carolina Governor Bev Perdue and Senator Kay R. Hagan both spoke at the event honoring Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. for his contributions.
"Despite the intolerance he faced his entire life, Dr. King believed in a better America based on our principals of justice, inclusion, community, and above all else equality," Hagan told the group that gathered at the Sheraton Imperial Hotel.
"Faith is about taking the first step, even when you don't know where that staircase is, and he did that, he led with passion," Perdue added.
As many of the events speakers shared, it's a passion that's still needed in the world today.
"We are still a people that are not entirely free, we're not entirely free as a people from racism which prevents us from achieving true equality," Durham Mayor Bill Bell said.
In Fayetteville, more than 2,000 people took part in the 19th annual MLK prayer breakfast honoring Dr. King at the Crown Coliseum Expo Center.
Throughout his life, the civil leader encouraged people to volunteer their time to help the less fortunate. Many people used their day away from work Monday to do that.
Hundreds in Durham, Johnston, Orange and Wake counties participated in the 7th Annual United Way of the Greater Triangle MLK Day of Service.
Volunteers helped with a variety of service projects from assembling hygiene kits for the homeless, to book drive sorting.
Several people also took part in the 32nd Annual Martin Luther King Memorial March through downtown Raleigh, which kicked off around 10 a.m.
The theme for this year's celebration is "From The Dream to reality ... economic & social equality ... more work to be done."
As a father, Rod Webb said he used the march to teach his son about the past, and in an effort towards a brighter future.
"I came out here today to celebrate Martin Luther King Junior and all that he did for our country," 5th grader Greear Webb said.
"He's young," Rod Webb said. "Thank goodness that society has changed a lot but there's still a lot of things that we have to work on and there's still a lot of people that need help and we still want him to understand and instill in him that civil liberties and freedoms come with the price and this march, commemoration of the march is important. "
Following the march, a keynote speaker addressed the crowd.
The MLK Day festivities wrapped up with the 32nd Annual Martin Luther King Evening Musical Celebration.
For a list of more MLK Day events, click here to view the ABC11.com community calendar.