Biden underscores US at ‘inflection point’ in MLK Jr. tribute  

President Joe Biden speaks at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, Sunday, Jan. 15, 2023, during a service honoring Martin Luther King Jr. Sen. Raphael Warnock, D-Ga., a senior pastor at Ebenezer Baptist Church, listens at left. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

President Biden on Sunday reiterated that the U.S. is at a crucial “inflection point” in the fight for democracy while speaking in the Atlanta church where Martin Luther King Jr. preached to mark what would have been the late civil rights activist’s 94th birthday.  

“I stand here at a critical juncture for the United States and the world … We’re at what we call an inflection point,” Biden said, arguing that the last few years and the next handful ahead will determine “what the world looks like” for the next three or four decades. 

“It happened after World War II. It’s happening again. The world is changing. There’s much at stake, much at stake,” he said. 

“This is a time of choosing, direct choices we have. Are we a people who will choose democracy over autocracy?” Biden asked, noting that though Americans may have “thought democracy was settled” 15 years ago, the matter is still as pressing as in recent years. 

The president delivered his remarks at the Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, invoking the pastor’s call to “redeem the soul of America” as the country hits a crossroads.  

“The battle for the soul of this nation is perennial. It’s a constant struggle. It’s a constant struggle between hope and fear, kindness and cruelty, justice and injustice. Against those who traffic in racism, extremism and insurrection. A battle fought on battlefields and bridges from courthouses and ballot boxes to pulpits and protest, and at our best, the American promise wins out,” Biden said, though he qualified that “we’re not always at our best.”

Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.), whose victory during a Georgia runoff election gave Democrats an extra seat in the Senate, also spoke and then was in the audience as Biden became the first sitting president to give a sermon from King’s Ebenezer. Sen. Jon Ossoff (D-Ga.) and a number of state lawmakers and officials were also in attendance.

The president listed King and the late Bobby Kennedy as his top political heroes, and paid tribute to Rosa Parks as a civil rights activist alongside King. He also lauded progress made since King’s day by praising Supreme Court Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson, saying the nation went just “one generation” from segregation to the Supreme Court. Brown was nominated by Biden and became the first Black woman in history to sit on the high court.

“Folks, I often think of the question that Dr. King asked us all those years ago. I think it’s important you all remember, I think it’s important the nation remember. He said: ‘Where do we go from here?’ ” Biden said.  

“Well, my message to the nation on this day is we go forward. We go together. When we choose democracy over autocracy, a beloved community over chaos,” he said. 

Tags Joe Biden Joe Biden Ketanji Brown Jackson martin luther king Martin Luther King Jr. MLK MLK Day Raphael Warnock

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