President Joe Biden said America needs to heed the words of the late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to “redeem the soul of America” in a sermon at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta on Sunday.
Sunday marked what would have been King’s 94th birthday. The church is a living tribute to the civil rights icon and this year its always monumental celebration of King was historic.
Presidents such as Jimmy Carter, George W. Bush and Barack Obama have graced the pulpit in the past. On Sunday, Biden became the first sitting president to deliver a Sunday sermon within those walls.
Biden said it was intimidating following the choir, despite having spoken in front of leaders around the world. He recalled King as one of his two political heroes, along with Robert F. Kennedy, and said the United States must contemplate King’s moral vision and commit to his path.
“The fact is that this is a time of choosing,” he said. “Are we a people who will choose democracy or autocracy? You couldn’t ask that question 15 years ago; we thought democracy was settled for our African Americans. It’s not.”
“We have to choose a community over chaos,” he continued. “Are we the people going to choose love over hate? These are the vital questions of our time. I believe Dr. King’s life and legacy show us the way and we should pay attention.”
Sen. Raphael Warnock, D-Ga., led the service and introduced Biden. Several more elected and non-elected officials were in attendance, including Sen. Jon Ossoff, former Atlanta mayor Andrew Young, current mayor Andrew Dickens and former mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, who now serves in the Biden administration.
“I am inspired by his lifelong commitment to service,” Warnock said of Biden.
Warnock touted Biden’s accomplishments as a senator and later as president.
“And Georgia had a little something to do with that,” he said.
Ebenezer is attended by about 6,000 people for the annual celebration of King, which coincides with his birthday the weekend before Martin Luther King Jr. Day, which is a federally observed holiday on Monday.
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