King Day Celebration at Ebenezer Church shines light on political and social threats
A capacity crowd filled the pews and hallways of Ebenezer Baptist Church on Monday, Jan. 15 for the anniversary birthday celebration of what would have been slain civil rights icon Martin Luther King Jr.’s 95th birthday. Hundreds more local residents and tourists from around the world strolled the church campus and visited King’s original church … Continued The post King Day Celebration at Ebenezer Church shines light on political and social threats appeared first on New Pittsburgh Courier.
A capacity crowd filled the pews and hallways of Ebenezer Baptist Church on Monday, Jan. 15 for the anniversary birthday celebration of what would have been slain civil rights icon Martin Luther King Jr.’s 95th birthday. Hundreds more local residents and tourists from around the world strolled the church campus and visited King’s original church home where he delivered some of his most prolific and famous sermons located adjacent to the burial sites of Martin Luther King Jr. and Coretta Scott King on Auburn Avenue.
The occasion marked the 56th annual observance of Dr. King’s birthday and its 39th year as a federal holiday which is celebrated on the third Monday of January to honor the life and legacy of Dr. King. Led by King’s oldest daughter, Dr. Bernice King, president and CEO of the King Center for Nonviolence and Social, the 2023 celebration themed “It Starts With Me” focused the eyes of the nation on the civil rights struggle past and present and shifting the cultural climate through the practice of Kingian nonviolence. “I come before you today not just the daughter of Dr. Martin Luther King and Coretta Scott King, but as the daughter of a king,” she began. “This is an urgent time. These are very strange and peculiar times. … I am concerned about our children and all my brothers and sisters in our world house who are denied living healthy and prosperous lives due to oppressing regimes,” she continued.
Sen. Raphael Warnock, the current senior pastor of Ebenezer Baptist who went from the pulpit to politics with his 2020 win to become Georgia’s first Black senator elected to the U.S. Congress, also spoke passionately about the need to extinguish the culture of hatred evident in the halls of Congress and permeating the nation.
“[Dr. King’s] voice summons us together when there are forces at work in our country trying to tear us apart. They are trying to tear us apart because people who have no vision traffic in division. They do not know how to lead us so they are trying to divide us for their own short-term political purposes,” Warnock told the standing-room-only crowd.
His remarks were followed and shored up by former Republican senator Liz Cheney, who joked that she was so ecstatic about being included in the observance that she even hugged Warnock, her political adversary from across the aisle. “It was the honor of a lifetime when I got a phone call from Reverend Berniece King inviting me to be here with you this morning. … I was so moved by the spirit and the love and the legacy of Dr. King that I actually hugged Senator Warnock,” she quipped. Cheney, who lost her bid for reelection after voting to impeach Donald Trump warned attendees of the dangers to democracy and King’s dream of a beloved nation presented by the former president.
“I think this is the most significant church and our nation,” she said. “Dr. King fought racism and bigotry and hate with a reverence for freedom, with an unshakeable courage of faith in God and a determination to live in the truth … and never have we faced a greater need to heed his call than we do now … as a great lie is poisoning our democracy,” she said.
Actor, comedian and activist, Ben Stiller joined the chorus of voices in the pulpit when he offered remarks encouraging congregants and supporters to
“I know you’re thinking how did the guy who made Zoolander and Tropic Thunder Church,” he said to laughter from the audience.
Dr. Berniece King led a special tribute to her aunt and Dr. King’s sister, Christina King Farris before the keynote address delivered by National Council of Negro Women president and CEO Shavon Atrline-Bradley. Arline-Bradley is also the founding principal and CEO of R.E.A.C.H. Beyond Solutions, a public health, advocacy, and executive leadership firm promoting EDI, political and organizational strategy, risk management, government affairs, and technical assistance.
More tributes were offered by Georgia Governor Brian Kemp, Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens and U.S. Secretary of Education Dr. Miguel along with a host of other religious and civic leaders.
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