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Major celebrations begin remembrances of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in Cleveland

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CLEVELAND - Cuyahoga Community College celebrated the longest running observance of Dr. Martin Luther King, Junior's birthday in grand style on Sunday, as 3,200 people cheered a rousing blend of musicians and speakers live at Playhouse Square.

This 40th annual observance - started six years before the nation honored Dr. King with a national holiday - was moved to Playhouse Square from Tri-C's campus to accommodate a larger demand for tickets.

And still, the event was sold out weeks ago.

Alex Johnson, Tri-C's President, said the event is a reminder of the importance of the community coming together "during challenging and controversial times."

With the Cleveland Philharmonic Orchestra providing some of the musical power, the audience cheered both performances and speeches alike.

The event was also used a launching point for a yearlong celebration marking the 50th anniversary of Carl Stokes' 1967 election as Cleveland's mayor.

On that night, Stokes became the first African-American elected to lead a major American city.

The Tri-C celebration in the afternoon preceded the annual MLK performance by the Cleveland Orchestra on Sunday night at Severance Hall. That event as well paid tribute to the historical significance of Carl Stokes' election back in 1967.

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