MLK memorial service imperiled by shutdown set to begin

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ATLANTA — A commemorative service for Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. that was nearly imperiled by the federal government shutdown began Monday morning at a church called King’s “spiritual home.”

The historic Ebenezer Baptist Church, where Martin Luther King Jr. co-pastored for years, was temporarily closed because of the government shutdown in 2019. (Nicole Chavez/CNN)

The annual service at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta was in doubt until Delta Air Lines gave the National Park Service a grant to reopen it. Delta is headquartered in Atlanta.

The civil rights leader was co-pastor with his father at the church from 1960 until his assassination in 1968.

The church is part of the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historical Park located in the “Sweet Auburn” district of downtown Atlanta.

The celebration has taken on special significance as Jan. 15 marked what would have been King’s 90th birthday.

Bryan Stevenson of the Equal Justice Initiative will be keynote speaker.

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