Demonstrations, attracting hundreds of people, were held in Philadelphia, New York, Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Oakland. More than 1,800 activists with signs saying "I can't breathe" and "Hands up! Don't shoot!" attended a commemoration service at the Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, Reuters reports.
"I can't breathe" and "Hands up! Don't shoot!" became rallying cries during large-scale protests that rocked the US after grand juries in two separate cases decided not to press charges against white police officers, who killed unarmed African-Americans. In July, Eric Garner died after being put in a chokehold in New York City. In August, Michael Brown was fatally shot in Ferguson, Missouri.
Martin Luther King Day is a US federal holiday commemorating the birthday of the famous civil rights leader. Since 2000, it is celebrated on the third Monday of January each year. Martin Luther King, an advocate for nonviolent activism, campaigned for racial equality and universal human rights.
Norell Edwards, 23, a graduate student who took part in a rally in New York tolf the New York Times that Martin Luther King's dream hasn't been realized. "This is a way to try to finish his work and stand together with unity and equality," he added.
Only 30 percent of Americans are satisfied with the state of race relations in the US, according to a Gallup poll released on Monday. In January 2014, 55 percent of respondents considered relations between different races in the US good.