Tuesday 19 September 2017

King's daughter in call to fight for vision 'no matter who is in White House'

Bernice King speaking at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta (AP/Branden Camp)
Bernice King speaking at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta (AP/Branden Camp)

The daughter of civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr has encouraged Americans to fight for his vision of love and justice "no matter who is in the White House".

Her call came as civil rights leaders and activists gathered at sites across the US to celebrate the legacy of Mr King.

Bernice King addressed more than 2,000 people gathered at her father's Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, four days before President-elect Donald Trump's inauguration.

She spoke hours before her brother, Martin Luther King III, is scheduled to meet with the president-elect at Trump Tower in New York.

While Bernice King did not offer a detailed critique of Mr Trump, who remains unpopular among black Americans, she said the nation still has a choice between "chaos and community", the same dichotomy her father wrote and preached about.

"At the end of the day, the Donald Trumps come and go," she said. But, she added "we still have to find a way to create" what her father called "the beloved community".

Mr Trump won fewer than one out of 10 votes from black Americans in November, and that lack of popularity was on display on Monday beyond Bernice King's remarks.

Without naming Mr Trump, Ebenezer's pastor, Raphael Warnock, blasted the president-elect for his weekend social media attacks on civil rights leader John Lewis and the Georgia congressman's Atlanta-based district that includes Ebenezer.

Mr Lewis angered Mr Trump when he told NBC's Meet the Press that he views Mr Trump as an "illegitimate president" because, he said, Russian hackers damaged the prospects of Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.

Mr Trump retorted on Twitter that Mr Lewis is "all talk" and said his Atlanta-based district is "falling apart" and "crime infested".

"Anybody who suggests that John Lewis is all talk and no action needs a lesson in American history," Mr Warnock said from his pulpit, drawing a standing ovation.

As a young man, Mr Lewis was arrested many times and beaten by authorities as he demonstrated for civil and voting rights for black Americans. Mr Warnock called him "the hero of Bloody Sunday and the conscience of the Congress".

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