Obamas celebrate Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday in church


US President Barack Obama (2nd-R), first lady Michelle Obama (L), and their daughters Sasha (2nd-L) and Malia (R) at the White House on January 3, 2012 in Washington, DC.


Mark Wilson

President Barack Obama and the first family celebrated Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday at Washington's historic Zion Baptist Church.

The Obamas do not go to church frequently, but often spend each Martin Luther King Jr. holiday weekend at historically black places of worship.

The church commemorated the civil rights leader's 83rd birthday with a passage from King's "Letter from a Birmingham Jail" and a sermon that urged the congregation to "preserve our morals, preserve our values," the Associated Press reported.

Rev. Keith Byrd Sr. urged the congregation “to be a source of hope."

The church’s program books also featured a plea for donations by the Occupy DC movement for “warm blankets, sleeping bags, hand and feet warmers.” 

In honor of MLK Jr.'s birthday, Occupy Wall Street will hold a candlelight vigil at Riverside Church in New York with planned performances by singer Patti Smith and possible appearances of Russell Simmons and Yoko Ono.

According to the Occupy Wall Street website, vigils are being organized around the world "from Cairo to California, Germany to Nova Scotia" with support from legendary peace activists Pete Seeger and Joan Baez.

"This is about Dr. King's vision for peace, nonviolence, economic and racial equality," said OWS member Aaron Black. "This is really Occupy's first real global action. We've always kind of been local here to Zuccotti Park. So this is a mass outreach project."

More from GlobalPost: Occupy Wall Street protests go global