Joe Biden Delivering remarks Sunday from Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. became the first sitting president to deliver a Sunday sermon from the historic church he pastored. Massacre in 1968.
“You’ve been around for 136 years — I know I’m like that, but I’m not,” Biden joked, calling King “one of my only political heroes” since entering public service.
In remarks from the sermon, the president referred to the current moment in American history as a “choice time.”
“Are we a people who choose democracy over autocracy? You couldn’t have asked this question 15 years ago, could you? You would have thought that democracy was solved—not for African Americans, but for democracy as an institutional system. But it’s not, it’s not,” he said.
“We must choose community from chaos. Are we the people…are we going to choose love over hate? These are the important questions of our time, and I believe they are the reason I am here as your President. Dr. King’s life and legacy show us the way, and we must pay attention,” Biden said.
He praised King and his legacy, noting that the civil rights pioneer was “born in a nation where segregation was a sad fact of life.”
Biden’s arrival came amid a A steady drip of revelations Later it is connected with his handling of secret documents During his tenure as Vice President. The White House has faced growing criticism for its lack of transparency with the public over the discovery of classified materials at Biden’s home and his former private office. Attorney General Merrick Garland Appointed Special Advocate Take the investigation into classified documents found in two locations linked to Biden.
Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock, the current pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church, invited Biden to speak Sunday on what would have been King’s 94th birthday. Warnock was there Recently elected for a full six-year term Following an election in Georgia where he pulled away from Biden on the campaign trail, polls showed a majority of voters. Disapproved of the President’s work.
At the church, Biden spoke about King’s legacy and a number of issues, including civil and voting rights.
“He had every reason to believe, as others of his generation did, that history had already been written, that secession was America’s destiny — but he rejected that conclusion,” Biden said. “Often, when people hear about Dr. King, they think most of his ministry and movement, the epic struggle for civil rights and the right to vote. But we do well to remember that his work is something deeper—it is spiritual. It was decent.”
The speech comes as the president prepares plans for his re-election bid with his advisers and decides on his political future. Biden flipped Georgia in 2020, buoyed by support from black voters, and the state could prove crucial in next year’s presidential campaign.
Ahead of Biden’s trip to Georgia, White House Senior Advisor for Public Engagement Keisha Lance Bottoms and Former Mayor of AtlantaThe visit has been called “an inflection point” as the president’s voting rights agenda has stalled in Congress.
“If you’ve been through the East Side, you’ve seen pictures of Dr. King meeting with Lyndon Johnson, meeting with other civil rights leaders, getting the vote out of the White House — so we’re still here. Talking about this in 2023, I know we need action, and we need that action from Congress. Literally,” Bottoms said.
“The President has done all he can in his executive powers and will continue to do so, but there is only so much he can do. We need Congress to act,” he added.
A democratically controlled house The Suffrage Bill was passed in 2021, but Senate Democrats are trying to change filibuster rules to pass the legislation failed Amid opposition from moderate Democrats Sens. Joe Manchin and Kirsten Sinema. It comes from the cinema Become independentWhile caucuses continue with Democrats and Republicans won control of the House The November midterm elections followed, further shattering hopes of a compromise on voting rights.
Bottoms supported the administration’s handling of the voting rights issue, telling reporters Friday that the Biden White House has “done everything we can do from the executive branch,” but added that if there are additional steps that would exacerbate the issue, “we welcome these recommendations . . .”
While in Atlanta, Biden is expected to meet with royal family members and civil rights organizations, the White House said.
King was assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee in 1968 at the age of 39.
On Monday, as the nation honors King on the holiday named after him, the National Action Network’s Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Breakfast in Washington, DC, with Rev. Biden will deliver the keynote address at the invitation of Al Sharpton.
This story has been updated.