Martin Luther King Service In Atlanta Gets Political

Martin Luther King Service In Atlanta Gets Political

Politics loomed over the ceremony held Monday on the occasion of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. holiday, as the black clergy, elected officials and other related civil rights legacy of the icon in the 2012 elections, calling on African-Americans to elect Barack Obama and condemning the laws of voter ID, they warned, are designed to suppress black voters.

Monday was a federal holiday marking King's birthday. He would have turned 83 on Sunday.

In Atlanta, Ebenezer Baptist Church - where King preached from 1960 until his death in 1968 - Rev. Raphael G. Warnock accused the GOP presidential candidate Newt Gingrich's use of racial stereotypes to run Republican voters. During the campaign, Gingrich called Obama "president of the Food Stamp" and earlier this month, he suggested that African Americans tend to pay rather than public assistance.

Warnock called Gingrich's comments "offensive and sickening."

The pastor also said that some of the legacy of America's disrespect for the king, "cutting off those for whom he died, and the principles for which he fought," pointing to voter ID laws, which he called "unnecessary and unjustified." He said that such laws insults the memory of the leader of the civil rights movement that fought for equal access to the voting booth.

"You can not celebrate Dr. King on Monday, and undermines the ability of people to vote on Super Tuesday," Warnock said. He said: "With your voice and your vote, let freedom ring!"

"Mr. Gingrich, we know what kind of work ethic," Warnock said. "We arrived on these shores in the work program. You are a historian, you will remember."

The ceremony on Monday was the 44th annual memorial service in honor of the king. Services under the chairmanship of his only brother lives, Christine King Farris.

The youngest daughter of the King, the Rev. Bernice A. King, who was recently appointed chief executive officer of The King Center also attended the service on Monday in Atlanta. She challenged all companies bidding on a holiday weekend to celebrate the birthday of her father, to send 10 percent of their profits at the Center for King, reminding them that Monday, "a day without a day off."

Congressman David Scott reminded blacks and whites during the civil rights movement who gave their lives so that future generations will have the right to vote and urged the crowd to remember their sacrifice.

"They spoke in a loud voice, go vote in 2012! Rating, as you have never voted before! And they say that there is only one person to vote, and his name is Barack Obama! Run and not get tired ... all way to the polls. "

Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed, a surrogate Obama also linked the president's re-election campaign to expand the civil rights movement. He said it was time to get to work and to dream again.

"People who have made it possible never asked us for anything," Reed said. "All they asked us to do is to be worthy of their sacrifices."

Rev. Cameron Alexander, a longtime pastor of the former GOP presidential candidate Herman Cain, said that any black people in Atlanta who did not register to vote "should be tar and feathered."

Alexander, a follower of King and pastor of Antioch Baptist Church North, stopped, arguing mainly black crowd at Ebenezer Baptist Church to vote for Obama. Instead, Alexander, who grew up in the Jim Crow South, remembers the humiliation of segregation, and remembered King as a preacher, not a politician.

"There should be hurt and the pain that you have something to do, and that voice," Alexander told the audience.

Governor Nathan Deal urged fellow Georgians should keep in mind the challenges that remain for more than 40 years after King's death, including illiteracy, drug addiction, poverty and crime.

"Dr. King was not only a man of his word. He was a man of action," Deal said. "So today, when many of the overarching reasons for which he worked had been achieved, the question that comes to our generation, what now?"

U.S. Sen. John Isakson took the occasion to support the recent decision of the police department to change the quote on the Martin Luther King national monument in Washington, after concern was expressed that civil rights icon comments were taken out of context and portrayed him as arrogant.

"He walked humbly with his God, and he urged others to do the same thing," Isakson said King. "Words matter. Dr. King did not matter."

Keynote speaker, the Rev. Frederick D. Haynes III, gave a fiery sermon included the motto of the holiday to "remember, celebrate and act."

"Racism is so sinister, subtle and subliminal. We still have a mission to perform," said Haynes, senior pastor of Friendship-West Baptist Church in Dallas. "Even though there are those who have done well. There are a lot of people behind us, and we can not forget them."

Haynes said that with so many using the words of the king, but not after his message, in 1964 the Nobel Peace Prize may be a "victim of identity theft." He recalled that the king was not only a dreamer, but those who fought for change in public policy and sacrificed for the common good.

"If we want to make a difference in this world, we need someone to get excited," said Haynes. "You do not get killed for dreaming."

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