Speed Reads

'live King 365 days of the year'

Rev. Bernice King is 'exhausted' by lawmakers who quote MLK but won't 'set aside politics' for change

Politicians may like to quote Martin Luther King Jr., his youngest daughter, the Rev. Bernice King, said on Monday, but they aren't actually doing the work necessary to bring about the change he sought.

"We love to quote King in and around the holiday, but then we refuse to live King 365 days of the year," she said during an address at the Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, where her father was once a pastor.

King said she is "exhausted, exasperated, and, frankly, disappointed" to hear elected officials repeat her father's words but "not set aside politics" to end police brutality and voter suppression. "He was God's prophet sent to this nation and even the world to guide us and forewarn us," she said. "A prophetic word calls for an inconvenience because it challenges us to change our hearts, our minds, and our behavior. Dr. King, the inconvenient King, puts some demands on us to change our ways."

Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.), who leads the Ebenezer Baptist Church and is Georgia's first Black senator, said Martin Luther King Jr. was both a civil rights and faith leader, and "faith was the foundation upon which he did everything he did. You don't face down dogs and water hoses because you read Nietzsche or Niebuhr. You gotta tap into that thing, that God he said he met anew in Montgomery when someone threatened to bomb his house and kill his wife and his new child. He left the comfort of a filter that made the whole world his parish," and his faith became "the creative weapon of love and nonviolence."

Warnock was born in 1969, the year after King was assassinated. He said the two senators representing Georgia at the time were segregationists, with one loving "the Negro" as long as he was "in his place at the back door." There has been progress, though, and "because of what Dr. King and because of what you did ... I now sit in his seat," Warnock said.