Joe Biden speaks at Ebenezer Baptist and Rev. Al Sharpton’s breakfast for MLK Day

The president spoke in Atlanta before breakfast with Rev. Al Sharpton
Joe Biden speaks at Ebenezer Baptist and Rev. Al Sharpton's breakfast for MLK Day
Joe Biden (Photo credit: / lev radin)

President Joe Biden is making his annual rounds for Martin Luther King Jr. Day. On Jan. 15, a day that would’ve been King’s 94th birthday, Biden stopped by King’s home church, Ebenezer Baptist Church, in Atlanta to speak.

He began his address by saluting the Sunday service’s preceding speaker before the most viral moment of the day occurred.

“Let’s lay one thing to rest,” Biden said. “I may be a practicing Catholic – we used to go to 7:30 mass every morning, in high school and going into college, before I went to the Black church.”

The audience then laughed.

“Not a joke,” Biden said. “[Ambassador] Andy [Young] knows this.”

The president then added more context to the viral clip in his full speech, however.

Biden said he’d meet with organizers like Young at Black churches to organize marches to desegregate his state.

“My state was, like yours, segregated by law,” Biden said. “We were a slave state, to our great shame. And we had a lot of leftovers of the bad things that came from that period of time.”

He then joked about promising not to go as long as a lot of the Black church preachers went back then before he honored King. He sent his condolences to the King family and said he understands grief doesn’t have an expiration date. He also saluted the late Corretta Scott King and said it was her day, too.

He congratulated the church’s lead pastor, Rev. Raphael Warnock, for his recent win in the Georgia Senate race.

Biden said he often reflects on King posing the question, “Where do we go from here?”

“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; when we choose believers and the dreams, to be doers, to be unafraid, always keeping the faith,” Biden said.

After his 25-minute address in Atlanta, Biden went back to the nation’s capital to prepare for Jan. 16 events. Biden, and former House speaker Nancy Pelosi, spoke at the annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day Breakfast hosted by the National Action Network. The event also featured remarks by Rev. Al Sharpton and Martin Luther King III.

In his National Action Network speech, Biden mentioned establishing Juneteenth as the first federal holiday since Martin Luther King Jr. Day. He also dispelled the criticism of “woke culture,” because pointing out America’s ugly history of racism, specifically referencing Emmett Till, is not “woke,” but addressing flaws in America.

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