Americans should pay attention to Martin Luther King’s legacy, says Biden

Americans should pay attention to Martin Luther King’s legacy, says Biden

Joe Biden speaks at the Ebenezer Baptist Church

Joe Biden made a historic pilgrimage to “America’s Liberty Church” to mark Martin Luther King’s birthday.

The US President said democracy is at a dangerous moment and the life and legacy of the civil rights leader “shows us the way and we should pay attention”.

As the first incumbent president to deliver a Sunday morning sermon at Mr. King’s Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, Mr. Biden cited the revealing question Mr. King himself once asked the nation.

“He said, ‘Where do we go from here?'” Mr. Biden said from the pulpit. “Well, my message to this nation on this day is we are moving forward, we are walking together as we choose democracy over autocracy, loving community over chaos as we choose believers and dreams of being doers, don’t be afraid, always keep the faith.”

President Joe Biden at the Ebenezer Baptist Church
President Joe Biden at the Ebenezer Baptist Church (Carolyn Kaster/AP)

In a divided country just two years away from violent insurgency, he said “the battle for the soul of this nation is eternal.”

He told parishioners, elected officials and dignitaries, “It’s a constant struggle … between hope and fear, kindness and cruelty, justice and injustice.”

He spoke out against those “trafficking in racism, extremism and insurgency,” saying the fight to protect democracy is playing out in courthouses and ballot boxes, in protests and other avenues.

“At our best, the American promise wins… But needless to say, we’re not always at our best. We are fallible. We fail and fall.”

People attend a service honoring Martin Luther King at the Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta
People attend a service honoring Martin Luther King at the Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta (Carolyn Kaster/AP)

The stop at Ebenezer comes at a sensitive moment for Mr Biden after Attorney General Merrick Garland announced on Thursday the appointment of a special counsel to investigate how the president handled classified documents after leaving the vice presidency in 2017.

The White House announced on Saturday that additional classified records were found at Mr. Biden’s home near Wilmington, Delaware.

At the introduction of Mr. Biden, the church’s senior pastor, Democratic Senator Raphael Warnock, noted that the president is “a devout Catholic” for whom “this Baptist service might be a little bit wild and lively. But I saw him clapping his hands over there.”

Mr. King, whom Senator Warnock called “the greatest American prophet of the 20th century,” served as an associate pastor from 1960 until his assassination in 1968.

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