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Dutch King and Queen Pay Tribute to MLK During Atlanta Visit

By SUDHIN THANAWALA – Associated Press

ATLANTA (AP) — The King and Queen of the Netherlands began a four-day U.S. tour Monday in Atlanta, where they paid tribute to the late Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. and learned about the history of the church where he served as pastor.

King Willem-Alexander and Queen Maxima were also due to visit a music studio in the city, a hub for hip hop artists.

The visit – and focus on black cultural sites – comes less than a year after the king apologized for his country’s role in slavery and asked for forgiveness during a historic and emotional speech in Amsterdam.

At the King Center, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s daughter, Bernice King, greeted the king and queen and walked with them to a marble crypt containing the remains of her father and mother, Coretta Scott King , where the couple laid a wreath. Civil rights leader and former Atlanta mayor Andrew Young also attended the event.

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Willem-Alexander called the visit “deeply moving” for the couple and said the “campaign for emancipation among people of color” was a story of “pain and anger, but also of pride, solidarity and unshakeable belief in peace and reconciliation.” »

“Also in the Netherlands, the fight against discrimination and racism continues to receive our full attention,” he said, reading from prepared remarks. “Martin Luther King inspires us to never give up. His voice continues to resonate even across the Atlantic.

The couple then met with black students at Ebenezer Baptist Church, where they learned about the church’s role in the civil rights movement and the fight for racial justice. On Tuesday, they are expected to visit Savannah State University, the oldest historically black public university or college in Georgia.

The trip also has an economic motive. In 2023, total trade between Georgia and the Netherlands amounted to $2.9 billion, according to the Georgian Ministry of Economic Development.

The king and queen met earlier Monday with Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp at the state Capitol, where they and a delegation of Dutch business leaders planned to discuss economic cooperation.

They were to be present later for the opening of a new cold storage facility by Dutch company NewCold.

On Tuesday, they plan to visit the Port of Savannah. The trip concludes with a visit to New York on Wednesday and Thursday.

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