Thousands gather for MLK celebration at Reardon Convention Center in Kansas City, Kan.

KANSAS CITY, Kan. - Thousands of people gathered at the Jack Reardon Convention Center Monday morning to honor the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

The annual mass celebration drew a crowd of about 2,500 and featured a unique theme: Martin, Mahatma, Mandela.

"With the recent passing of Nelson Mandela, we thought it was fitting," event coordinator LaVert Murray said. "Their messages were similar (to Mahatma Gandhi)."

All three of the civil rights leaders were honored.

Reverend Dr. Otis Moss Jr., a retired minister from Cleveland Ohio who worked side by side with Martin Luther King Sr., delivered the keynote speech.

Organizers say it's important to make sure Dr. King's message is passed down to the next generation.

"We have people here who weren't even bored when Dr. King was killed," Murray said. "There are certainly improvements to be made in non-violence, and fortunately the negative always seems to be picked up by the media and the press, but our youth are doing a lot of great, positive things, so I think his message is carrying on."

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