Speaking at a commemoration of what would have been her father’s 90th birthday, Rev. Dr. Bernice King criticized the Trump administration Monday for misquoting her father’s works “to suit our own purposes.”
King’s remarks were aimed at Trump’s border wall push and comments by Vice President Mike Pence, who during an appearance on CBS’ “Face the Nation” on Sunday, said: “One of my favorite quotes from Dr. King was ‘Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy.”
“You think of how he changed America. He inspired us to change through the legislative process to become a more perfect union,” Pence said on the show. “That’s exactly what President Trump is calling on the Congress to do. Come to the table in the spirit of good faith. We’ll secure our border, we’ll reopen the government and we’ll move our nation forward.”
On Monday, during remarks at the annual Martin Luther King Jr. commemorative service at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, Bernice King said: “If we really want to make real the promises of democracy, now is the time on this King holiday to stop quoting King out of context and misquoting him to suit our own purposes.”
The Ebenezer audience applauded warmly.
Bernice King also called for action on problems facing the country, ranging from the partial government shutdown affecting federal workers’ livelihood to the resurgence of white supremacist ideologies and voter access problems.
“We are in a state emergency because of our humanitarian crises, and it’s not at our southern border,” she said. “The concern for human welfare is being threatened.”
“When prejudice and bigotry are emboldened…. when schools continue to be unsafe spaces because of impotent gun control laws…. this is a humanitarian crisis and we are in a state of emergency,” King said.
During remarks at the service, U.S. Sen. David Perdue, R-Ga., called for reflection on King’s words, saying: “He often reminded us that what united us is far greater than what divides us.”
The service came on the holiday weekend when the Martin Luther Jr. National Historical Park reopened to visitors after a closure due to the partial federal shutdown. The reopening was funded with the help of a $83,500 grant from Atlanta-based Delta Air Lines.
Reopened for Martin Luther King Jr. weekend through the Super Bowl on Feb. 3, are the historic Ebenezer Baptist Church where King was co-pastor, the home where Martin Luther King Jr. was born, the park’s visitor center and historic Fire Station No. 6.
“We ought to be concerned that the cradle of the civil rights movement is also the capital of income inequality in this country today,” said Rev. Raphael Warnock, senior pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church.