Scores of King events are scheduled throughout the Triangle-area.
It all kicked off at 7 a.m. with an interfaith prayer breakfast at the Sheraton Imperial Hotel in Research Triangle Park. The event was followed by a march from the state capitol through downtown Raleigh at 11 a.m.
Then at 5:30 p.m., the 34th Annual Martin Luther King Evening Musical Celebration kicked off at the Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts in downtown Raleigh. The event was free and open to the public. Gospel music great Earnest Pugh was the featured musical guest.
For 33 years, Bruce Lightner, the son of Raleigh's first and only African-American mayor has been the chief organizer of the city's Martin Luther King Day events. Lightner retired last year and successfully passed the torch to a new generation of leaders.
"I feel deeply that if he were still here- he would be standing up for the same thing- raising the wages of people who are suffering," said Raleigh resident Marvin Woll.
Meanwhile, others spent the holiday helping others as part of a day of service.
"I feel like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. would rather us be out in the community helping instead of just sleeping in maybe and just Netflix binge watching," Florrie McCard said. "I feel like in a way, by being here and participating, we're kind of furthering what he wanted for our country."
The St. Mary's High School senior was just one of thousands of volunteers who took part in a number of service projects -- everything from delivering meals, to cleaning and painting, and small construction projects -- to benefit Urban Ministries, The Boys and Girls Club, local rescue missions, and different communities.
"This is our ninth year of service and we're really very much focused on being part of the community and having impact in the community," said Melanie Davis-Jones with the United Way of the Greater Triangle. "Growing up in the 60s, I remember I went to school in a segregated school to start with, so I remember the busing and I remember the changes that happened because people cared enough to serve in their community."