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(NECN: Mike Cronin) - Becker College President Dr. Robert Johnson told a crowd of about 700 in Worcester, Mass. to remember Martin Luther King Jr. for his work to make a difference and his will to change the world.
"And if we can simply do the same thing, the world will be much better," said Johnson.
Johnson was the keynote speaker at Quinsigamond Community College's 29th annual Martin Luther King Jr. Breakfast. His uncle was classmates with Dr. King at Morehouse College. Johnson also graduated from there.
"He inspired me. He inspired me to try to make a difference, and that's what we were taught at Morehouse and it was pretty much in the King tradition," he said.
Dr. King inspired others to fight for civil rights. Johnson says everyone has an obligation to make the world a better place - a message that resonated with city leaders.
"I think in this community, as Dr. Johnson pointed out, it is a special community and we do have the will to make things better here in the city and make a difference," said Worcester Mayor Joe Petty.
"Mum Bett is actually known as the mother of civil rights," said Tammy Denease.
In honor of Monday's holiday, Old Sturbridge Village welcomed performers to talk about New England's civil rights history. Denease portrayed Elizabeth "Mum Bett" Freeman, a one-time slave who won her freedom in court.
"It actually set the precedent for people to fight for their freedom, and in 1783 Massachusetts ended slavery," said Denease.
"Allows us to reflect on the origins of the movement for racial equality, which, of course, are still going on 50 years after," said curator Tom Kelleher.
Meanwhile, Johnson says the work goes on. He says people can continue Dr. King's legacy by providing equal opportunities and bettering others lives.
"I just think if we can all continue to dream big and to help our young people, the world will be much, much better," said Johnson.