Ebenezer Baptist Church Senior Pastor Raphael Warnock attacked Newt Gingrich from the pulpit on MLK Day. (11 Alive)
Politics loomed large over the ceremonies held Monday, the federal holiday marking what would’ve been the 83rd birthday of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., as black clergy, elected officials and others tied King’s legacy to the 2012 presidential election.
They urged African-Americans to re-elect President Barack Obama, and condemned voter identification laws they warned are meant to suppress black voter turnout in November.
At Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, where King preached from 1960 until his death in 1968, the Rev. Raphael G. Warnock accused GOP presidential candidate Newt Gingrich of using racial stereotypes to fire up Republican voters. On the campaign trail, Gingrich has referred to President Barack Obama as “the food stamp president” and earlier this month suggested that African-Americans seek paychecks instead of public assistance.
Warnock called Gingrich’s comments “sickening and insulting.”
“Mr. Gingrich, we know what work ethic is,” Warnock said. “We arrived on these shores on a jobs program. You’re a historian, you remember.”
Monday’s ceremony was the 44th annual commemorative service honoring King, who would have turned 83 on Sunday. The service was presided over by his only living sibling, Christine King Farris.