AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) – Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday is on Sunday, and Paine College, Augusta University and Augusta Tech are getting a head start on the celebration.

They all came together at Gilbert Lambuth Memorial Chapel at Paine College on Friday.

The goal of this annual gathering is to not only celebrate Dr. King, but to remind people that his fight for justice is far from over.

Dr. Lewis V. Baldwin, a religious studies professor at Vanderbilt University, was the keynote speaker.

He has written numerous publications on race studies and the life and thoughts of Dr. King.

“As long as poverty and violence and human destruction are problems, we have a responsibility, I think a moral responsibility, to build on Dr. King’s legacy,” Dr. Baldwin said. “Not simply to talk about it, but to continue his holy crusade.”

Mayor Garnett Johnson and the presidents of the colleges also made speeches.

“It’s important that folks don’t forget the impact that MLK has had, specifically in our country. A message of love and a message of peace,” said Dr. Jermain Whirl, the president of Augusta Tech.

A student choir and the audience sang hymns throughout the service.

And, money collected from an offering is going toward the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Center of Nonviolent Social Change at Paine College.

“The work of the center carries on the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, and even though it’s been years since he walked among us, I think the legacy, the lessons, the teachings are still very relevant today,” said Dr. Cheryl Evans Jones, the president of Paine College.

The speakers want the values and non-violent teachings of Dr. King to resonate with newer generations, and generations still to come.

“It’s a message we should hear today, a message we should relate to and a message we should continue to spread. We stand on his shoulders,” Dr. Baldwin said.