Local residents gathered in Alton on Sunday to mark the annual Dr. Martin Luther King Junior Day Holiday. The Alton Branch of the NAACP sponsored the 32nd annual commemoration, held yesterday at the Tabernacle Missionary Baptist Church. Other gatherings will take place today throughout the Metro area, including Edwardsville, Collinsville, Belleville and throughout St. Louis.

NAACP treasurer Bobby Collins was the keynote speaker at the event in Alton yesterday, and challenged the youth in attendance to learn about the civil rights movement, work hard, and stand up for what is right. Alton Mayor Tom Hoechst urged those in attendance to break out the lifestyle of viewing prison as a symbol of success as some young black men do. He appealed to Alton African American churches to help him fight the black-on-black crime in the city, and said he believes Dr. King would be disappointed in the slowness of the progress being made in overcoming the lack of respect for one another in our society. The annual MLK award was presented to Reverend E.J. Roberts of the St. James Missionary Baptist Church.