As President Joe Biden became the first sitting U.S. president to speak at a Sunday service at the Church of Civil Rights Leaders in Atlanta, he urged Americans to take action to mend their division, extremism and injustice. As a lesson, he told me to look to the life of Martin Luther King Jr.
To mark Monday’s national holiday in honor of the King, Biden delivered a sermon focused on common themes at Ebenezer Baptist Church at the invitation of its pastor, Democratic Senator Raphael Warnock.
“In fact, I am at a critical crossroads for America and the world,” Mr. Biden said, adding that it was “time to choose.”
“Are we the people who choose democracy over dictatorship?” Biden asked. “We have to choose community over chaos. Are we going to make people choose love over hate? These are the issues of our time and why I’m here. ”
King worked for voting rights, Biden said, but “it’s good to remember that his mission was much deeper. It was spiritual. It was moral.”
King often asked, “Where are you going from here?” Biden said. “My message to the nation on this day is that we move forward. We will go together.”
Sunday was King’s 94th birthday. He was assassinated in 1968 in Memphis, Tennessee at the young age of 39 by James Earl He Ray, who was an avowed racist. King was pastor of Ebenezer Church from 1960 until his death.
“The battle for the soul of this nation is a constant struggle,” Biden said in a tribute to King. “It’s a constant struggle between hope and fear, kindness and cruelty, justice and injustice.”
Many presidents, including Biden, have visited Ebenezer to honor King, usually during events around King’s birthday. But Biden was the first to speak from the pulpit at Sunday’s regular service.
“It’s a reminder that we are all bound by one garment of destiny,” said Dr. King. They will do it for you,” Warnock said Sunday.
On Monday, Biden is scheduled to meet with civil rights advocate Al Sharpton in Washington to speak with his group, the National Action Network.
Biden plans to announce his candidacy for re-election in the coming weeks.
Biden was elected in 2020 with strong support from black voters after promising to do more to expand voting rights and address other racial justice issues. However, some activist groups boycotted King’s 2022 speech, disappointed by King’s lack of action.
https://www.voanews.com/a/in-tribute-to-rights-leader-king-biden-invokes-battle-for-the-soul-of-this-nation-/6919321.html Paying tribute to rights leader King, Biden evokes ‘fight for the soul of this nation’