King Legacy: Apostle of Nonviolence
On a day of remembrance of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., many honor civil rights leader's philosophy of peace and nonviolence; call attention to the rights of the poor, immigration reform and unemployment.
OLD FOURTH WARD — As Washington marked the second inauguration of President Barack Obama, here in Atlanta, hundreds gathered at the Ebenezer Baptist Church to celebrate the birthday of Martin Luther King Jr., the Civil Rights leader who, arguably, fought for the rights and fundamental change that made such a day possible.
King's daughter, Bernice A. King, who is chief executive of the King Center, alluded to the connection, noting her father's restored family Bible was to be used in the inauguration ceremonies.
"They called for the Bible of the prophet," she said, referring to her father during the 45th annual Martin Luther King Jr. Commemorative Service.
"They called for the Bible of the prophet because God is speaking to us in these times that we cannot forget about Martin Luther King Jr., the pastor, the minister and the prophet."
In the wake of the shootings in Newtown, Conn., she reiterated her father's push for change through nonviolence.
Indeed, she recounted the Jan. 30, 1956 bombing of her family's home in which King's supporters took up arms to defend themselves against their terrorists.
"As he stood on that porch, he raised his hand to a very furious and angry crown who had taken up arms because they were tired of terrorism," she said.
" 'We can't fight this with guns because we are going to a higher plane. We are going to fight this with Christian love because he who lives by the sword, shall die by the sword.' "
King's "I Have a Dream" put into words the spirit of the movement, but his daughter and other speakers said the dream of full equality is not yet realized.
Aside from gun violence, they said the nation needs to address workers rights, immigration and the plight of the poor and homeless and war to fully realize his dream of total equality.
Elisabeth Omilani, chief executive of the Hosea Feed the Hungry charity started by her father, told the crowd that the scores of nameless people who are homeless or hungry must not be forgotten.
For example, she said since last April, she's found 17 women living in their cars with their children for lack of shelter seeking aid.
Despite the daunting problems, Omilani said the nation coming together can solve its problems.
It was a theme carried by the Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, who served as the keynote speaker.
"The movement is not over," Rodriguez, whose group is the largest association of Latino Christian evangelicals in the country, said.
The fight for justice isn't a left or right issue, nor can either side of the political spectrum claim it for personal gain.
"Justice comes from the High, for the purpose of lifting up the low," he said in a rousing, 11-minute speech that garnered a standing ovation from the audience.
"At the end of the day, this will not be a political movement driven by expediency, but a prophetic movement driven by the impetus of the cross," he said.
"The only agenda that can save America is not the agenda of the donkey or the elephant," Rodrigeuz said in a nod to the symbols of the Democrat and Republican parties, respectively.
"This nation will be saved via the agenda of the Lamb."