Events were held around the city and the country Monday to mark Dr. Martin Luther King's birthday including the 8th annual "Come Share the Dream" celebration at the Brooklyn Academy of Music.
The annual "Come Share the Dream" event is one of BAM's largest gatherings.
This year commemorated what would have been Dr. King's 85th birthday last Wednesday.
Monday's event was also dedicated to Nelson Mandela and his contributions to the causes of freedom and equality.
Some were just learning about Dr. King for the first time, while other's had deeply personal memories.
"Prior to the Montgomery bus boycott, he had come to our church to raise money and awareness, and my dad took me, my dad was from Georgia, it was a very moving experience for me," said Selma Jackson, an attendee.
Mayor Bill de Blasio and first lady Chirlane McCray received the loudest ovation.
The mayor says everyone needs to come together to realize King's dream of equality for all.
"The time to build shared prosperity is now. Now is the time to do the things we can do to reach people in need," de Blasio said.
Noted writer and activist Angela Davis delivered the keynote address. Organizers say she's been deeply involved in the country's quest for equality.
Some attendees who spoke with NY1 say she's personally touched their lives.
"I was actually named after Angela Davis," noted City Councilwoman Laurie Angela Cumbo.
Speaking to the crowd, Davis said that men and women must continue the struggle for equal rights.
"If we commit ourselves to struggle for a better, more ethical, more egalitarian world, the planet will definitely become a more hospitable place," Davis said.
Meantime, churches and community groups around the city also marked the day with King-themed events.
One of King's last speeches was remembered Sunday at Riverside Church.
Martin Luther King III was on hand to commemorate his father's 1967 Beyond Vietnam speech.
Dr. King's son says he always has mixed feelings about celebrating the holiday.
He says great strides have been made since his father's death, but the dream is nowhere near realized.
"When we think about a holiday usually it means pause, relaxing. This holiday is not about pausing and relaxing. It's about getting engaged. We did not achieve the realization of the dream last year and so every January, if we do not achieve it in the previous year we start anew," King said.
Meanwhile, Vice President Joe Biden reflected on the ongoing fight against inequality in the United States.
Joining the National Action Network for their annual MLK day breakfast in Washington, Biden remarked on the legacy of the civil rights movement and, in particular, voting rights.
He also says currently developing policies will be remembered as landmark steps towards equality in America.
"I think we're on the brink of bringing 11 million people out of the shadows on a path to citizenship, making us not only a more humane country, but a more economically successful country. I think we're in the process of guaranteeing that no one who works 40 hours a week has to live in poverty. We're going to raise that minimum wage," Biden said.
The vice president also drew connections between the civil rights movement and the women's equality movement, as well as the Affordable Care Act.
Dr. King was assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee on April 4, 1968.
Banks are closed along with financial markets, schools and courts.
Post offices are closed and there is no mail delivery.
There is no garbage or recycling pickup, and no street cleaning.
Alternate side parking rules are suspended - but drivers still have to feed the meters.
Subways, buses and the Staten Island Railway run on a regular weekday schedule.
Long Island Rail Road is running on a holiday schedule and Metro-North runs on a Saturday schedule.
Off-peak fares are in effect all day.