Kenneth Abdus-Salam says Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was always humble.
PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- As the world remembers Dr. Martin Luther King's legacy on Monday, some remember him personally.
One such person is a man from the Philadelphia area who, like Dr. King, was a part of history.
"I got involved in the movement at age 14 years old," said Kenneth Abdus-Salaam, who grew up in Philadelphia not far from Girard College, which used to be a segregated school for white orphan boys.
"Sitting in the middle of an African American community, and we couldn't go in," he said about the school.
Girard College and the fight to desegregate it became his call to the Civil Rights Movement.
"Girard College was when I really got my foot really wet and I knew this was what I wanted to do," he said. "I wanted to do it so much that I quit school."
He was only in 11th grade. In 1965, Abdus-Salaam joined what would become a seven-month protest led by local Civil Rights pioneer Cecil B. Moore.
"He just inspired me because here was an African American man standing up," said the 74-year-old.
Round-the-clock protests gained local headlines, and then came the man who garnered national attention: Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
"It didn't really swell until Dr. King came. When Dr. King came, everybody wanted to see Dr. King," said Abdus-Salaam. "Dr. King came and he spoke and inspired and he let the world know!"
Abdus-Salam was inspired to continue the fight for civil rights, marching in other parts of the country with Dr. King, who he says was always humble.
"It's not about ego, it's about 'we go.' I always said Dr. King was an example of that," he said.
That made the news of Dr. King's assassination on April 4, 1968, that much more difficult for Abdus-Salaam.
"I just couldn't believe it, you know. Here's a man whose whole message, his whole life was centered around peace," he said.
Abdus-Salaam was by Dr. King's side in life and in death serving as one of the pallbearers at his funeral.
"They took a (photo) from the funeral procession, and there I was," he said.
Abdus-Salaam has spent the decades since fighting for civil rights causes. Now a grandfather, he challenges the next generation to continue Dr. King's march for justice.
"As Dr. King said, I might not live to see what I believe can be seen but I think that the young people today got their heads on straight," he said.