Crowds gathered at Lonoke Baptist Church in Texarkana, Arkansas for a "commemorative service."
Children joined with adults in readings, tributes, and prayer.
"Dr. Martin Luther King didn't just fight for African Americans. He fought for everyone in this world," said Ronnie Kelley of Texarkana, Arkansas.
Across the state line, the Greater Texarkana, Texas Branch of the NAACP held its MLK program at Dunbar Elementary School.
About 100 people gathered as residents spoke about Dr. King's message and work.
"We need to pass the legacy down to future generations in order to continue the dream,"
said Benjamin Davis with the NAACP.