MLK holiday: 'Selma' stars including Oprah march in Alabama

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'Selma' Cast Marches In Alabama For MLK Celebration

SELMA, Ala. (AP) -- Oprah Winfrey and fellow actors from the movie "Selma" marched with hundreds in a tribute to Martin Luther King Jr., one of many events around the nation ushering in Monday's federal holiday for the slain civil rights leader.

Remembrances of the King legacy come amid somber reflection by many on incidents in which unarmed black men were killed by police in recent months, spurring protests and heightening tensions in the U.S. In Ferguson, Mo., where one fatal shooting caused weeks of violent protests, leaders urged reforms to the criminal justice system in the name of equality.

"We need to be outraged when local law enforcement and the justice system repeatedly allow young, unarmed black men to encounter police and then wind up dead with no consequences," said U.S. Rep. William Clay, a St. Louis Democrat. "Not just in Ferguson, but over and over again across this country."

The King holiday, meanwhile, was being met with activities nationwide, including plans for a wreath-laying in Maryland, a tribute breakfast in Boston and volunteer service activities by churches and community groups in Illinois. In South Carolina, civil rights leaders readied for their biggest rally of the year.

Winfrey helped lead a march by hundreds on Sunday with "Selma" director Ava DuVernay and actor David Oyelowo, who played King in the movie.

"Selma" chronicled turbulent events leading up to the historic march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama, and the subsequent passage of the 1965 Voting Rights Act. Winfrey played activist Annie Lee Cooper in the movie, which was nominated for two Oscars, in categories of best picture and best original song.

A producer on the film, Winfrey praised the 1965 marchers for their courage in meeting fierce opposition on the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma - scene of Sunday's remembrance march.

"Look at what they were able to do with so little, and look at how we now have so much," Winfrey said. "If they could do that, imagine what now can be accomplished with the opportunity through social media and connection, the opportunity through understanding that absolutely we are more alike than we are different."

White officers used clubs and tear gas on March 7, 1965 - "Bloody Sunday" - to rout marchers intent on walking some 50 miles to Montgomery, the Alabama capital, to seek the right for blacks to register to vote. King led a new march later that month that reached Montgomery, with the crowd swelling to 25,000.

Elsewhere, King's legacy was being celebrated with days of events in Atlanta, especially at the church he once pastored. The current pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church, the Rev. Raphael Warnock, said the annual King holiday is a time when "all of God's children are busy spreading the message of freedom and justice."

On Monday, Oyelowo planned to deliver a holiday tribute to King at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, where church members over the weekend sang the civil rights anthem, "We Shall Overcome."

Calls for unity were heard during the events surrounding the King holiday.

During Sunday's march in Selma, Common and John Legend performed their Oscar-nominated song "Glory" from the film as marchers crested the top of the bridge as the sun set. Common had a part in the movie and said that song sought to show the link between the struggle of the past and today's injustices.

"We are the ones that can change the world," Common said afterward. "It is up to us, and it takes all us - black, white, Latino, Asian, native-American, whatever nationality or religious background. There is a certain togetherness that we've got to have."

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MLK holiday: 'Selma' stars including Oprah march in Alabama
Oprah Winfrey locks arms with David Oyelowo, who portrays Martin Luther King Jr. in the movie "Selma" as they march to the Edmund Pettus Bridge in honor of Martin Luther King Jr., Sunday, Jan. 18, 2015, in Selma, Ala. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)
Oprah Winfrey lowers her head to pray with David Oyelowo, who portrays Martin Luther King Jr. in the movie "Selma" before they march to the Edmund Pettus Bridge in honor of Martin Luther King Jr., Sunday, Jan. 18, 2015, in Selma, Ala. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)
Marchers line the streets of Selma towards Edmund Pettus Bridge in honor of Martin Luther King Jr., Sunday, Jan. 18, 2015, in Selma, Ala. Several celebrities such as Oprah Winfrey, John Legend, Common, and David Oyelowo lock arms and march to promote the movie "Selma."(AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)
Oprah Winfrey locks arms with some of the cast of the new movie "Selma" as they march to the Edmund Pettus Bridge in honor of Martin Luther King Jr., Sunday, Jan. 18, 2015, in Selma, Ala. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)
Oprah Winfrey address the crowd before she marches Edmund Pettus Bridge in honor of Martin Luther King Jr., Sunday, Jan. 18, 2015, in Selma, Ala. Winfrey joined some of the cast to promote the movie "Selma." (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)
Oprah Winfrey locks arms with David Oyelowo, left, who portrays Martin Luther King Jr. in the movie "Selma," Ava DuVernay, the director of "Selma" and rapper Common, far left, as they march to the Edmund Pettus Bridge in honor of Martin Luther King Jr., Sunday, Jan. 18, 2015, in Selma, Ala. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)
Oprah Winfrey locks arms with David Oyelowo, who portrays Martin Luther King Jr. in the movie "Selma" as they march to the Edmund Pettus Bridge in honor of Martin Luther King Jr., Sunday, Jan. 18, 2015, in Selma, Ala. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)
Oprah Winfrey locks arms with David Oyelowo, left, who portrays Martin Luther King Jr. in the movie "Selma," Ava DuVernay, the director of "Selma," rapper Common and singer song writer John Legend as they march to the Edmund Pettus Bridge in honor of Martin Luther King Jr., Sunday, Jan. 18, 2015, in Selma, Ala. A large crowd filled in around the stars to (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)
Marchers hold up a "March On" and "Still They Marched" signs as they make their way towards the Edmund Pettus Bridge the Edmund Pettus Bridge in honor of Martin Luther King Jr., Sunday, Jan. 18, 2015, in Selma, Ala. Several clebraties such as Oprah Winfrey, John Legend, Common, and David Oyelowo lock arms and march to promote the movie "Selma."(AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)
Marchers hold up a "March On" and "Still They Marched" signs as they make their way towards the Edmund Pettus Bridge the Edmund Pettus Bridge in honor of Martin Luther King Jr., Sunday, Jan. 18, 2015, in Selma, Ala. Several clebraties such as Oprah Winfrey, John Legend, Common, and David Oyelowo lock arms and march to promote the movie "Selma."(AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)
Singer and song writer John Legend makes his way to the Edmund Pettus Bridge in honor of Martin Luther King Jr.,Sunday, Jan. 18, 2015, in Selma, Ala. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)
SELMA, AL - JANUARY 18: EDITORIAL USE ONLY Crowds gather for the commemorative march to the Edmund Pettus Bridge on January 18, 2015 in Selma, Alabama. (Photo by Rick Diamond/Getty Images for Paramount Pictures)
SELMA, AL - JANUARY 18: EDITORIAL USE ONLY- Oprah Winfrey, David Oyelowo and Ava DuVernay lead a commemorative march to the Edmund Pettus Bridge on January 18, 2015 in Selma, Alabama. (Photo by Paras Griffin/Getty Images for Paramount Pictures)
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