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hello, everyone. thank you for joining me. i'm fredricka whitfield. on what would have been martin luther king, jr.'s 94th birthday, joe biden will deliver a sermon in his honor. biden will be the first sitting president to speak at a sunday service at ebenezer baptist church where he served as pastor. biden will talk about king's life and legacy, as well as voting rights on the eve of the federal holiday. this coming as new questions, as you see the president walking into ebenezer baptist with senator warnock. and you are seeing these
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pictures live and people standing in his presence. our cnn white house correspondent is there. arletta, this comes as the president is being hit with a lot of questions about documents that have been found in his personal residence, in delaware, as well as his former office. so what do we expect his message will be, largely staying away from the controversy, and answering some of those questions, and more specifically, addressing the legacy of dr. king? >> reporter: well, fred, he's hoping to keep the focus on his sermon today at ebenezer baptist where martin luther king, jr. was a pastor. officials have said that the president wants to talk about the legacy of dr. king, as well as the path forward for the nation. now, this all comes ahead of
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that martin luther king, jr. holiday tomorrow. and the president is coming to this historic church at tin i have -- at the invitation of senator warnock, who is the pastor here and just won re-election in the senate. the service is starting to get underway there. this comes at an interesting time, as conversation about those classified documents found at the president's residence and an office. those conversations have dominated so much of the news in the days leading into this. another interesting point, of course, is the fact that joe biden himself is weighing whether he wants to launch another bid for re-election. of course, georgia would be pivotal to a 2024 campaign. this is a state that helped biden win when he flipped it from red to blue in 2022. today, the focus of his message is to honor the legacy of dr. king. >> all right.
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arlette saenz, we'll check back in with you later. senator raphael warnock will be introducing the president just ahead of his sermon. we'll take you there again in a moment. in other news right now, a heartbreaking scene in ukraine, after an apartment block was hit in a deadly russian missile strike. a young girl, seen cleaning up right there in the rubble of that aftermath. ukraine says at least 25 people were killed, including a child, and at least 73 people were injured. rescue crews are searching for dozens of people who are still missing. cnn correspondent scott mcclain is in kyiv this morning for us. so scott, tell us more. >> reporter: fred, yeah, the death toll may still yet rise, because there are still dozens of people, 43 people who remain unaccounted for.
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that's why they have had this search effort to find anyone trapped inside that building or buried under the rubble. the rescue effort involved more than 300 people, a heck of a lot of equipment, as well. the mayor said today he believes the chances of finding someone alive at this stain of the game, more than 24 hours later, is in his words, minimal. that is because not only would someone be badly injured, but the temperatures are below freezing. only 27 degrees. so you would be injured, you would be cold, not to mention all of the smoke and gases you would be inhaling. it is also an extremely delicate operation to try to pull people out of that rubble, because the mayor says that rocket went all the way down to the basement. not even the basement was a safe space in this case. and so there's no way for rescue workers to get at people from underneath. they have to go from the top. and yet there have been people pulled out. there was a moment last night,
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overnight at around 1:00 in the morning, where rescue workers heard a woman's voice. quickly this hive of activity at the scene, went very silent as they tried to communicate with her. listen. [ speaking non-english ] >> reporter: so that woman ended up getting pulled out alive at around 11:30 local this morning, ten hours later. that is nothing short of a miracle. now, the russian military put out a statement, calling this missile strike operation a success, saying they were going after energy infrastructure, and all of the targets were hit. they made no mention of this apartment block here. the mayor of the city figures this was not the intended target. he figures the intended target
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was a thermal power station across the river. that makes a lot of sense, considering the type of missile that the ukrainians believe the russians were using. this is the kind of missile called a kh-22, usually intended to sink ships and it is not very accurate. accurate only to a radius of about 550 yards or so. it's the same kind of missile, fredricka, that was used on a shopping mall last summer in -- which killed 18 people. the intend target in that case was a facility to repairir military vehicles a few hundred yards away. the trouble here is, the ukrainians don't have any way to shoot this down. the air defense system has not had any success in striking it down. of the more than 200 missiles oh of this variety that have been incoming since the war started, the ukrainians say not a single one has been shot down. >> incredible. scott, there's the issue of power.
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because -- excuse me -- ukraine is saying that russian strikes targeted power infrastructure around the country, as well as, you know, bombarding residential buildings. so what about power being restored in places that had power? >> reporter: yeah. so the ukrainians don't give specific details on these energy facilities that were hit and the extent of the damage. they don't want the russians to know whether they need to go back and finish the job. but there were energy facilities in five different regions that were hit. emergency power cuts are ongoing. there was a reprieve over the last two weeks where there was not a whole lot of missile strikes, which allowed crews to do some repair work and upgrades on the system. but now they're back to square one. >> scott, thank you so much. all right. at least 68 people have died
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after a yeti airlines plane crashed in central nepal today. that's according to the country's aviation authority. there were a total of 72 people on board the flight, including six children, 15 foreign nationals were also among the victims, including from australia, france, and ireland. it's the country's deadliest plane crash in more than 30 years. search efforts were suspended after dark and will resume this morning. back in this country, we're standing by, just moments from now, that man right there, the president of the united states, president biden, will deliver remarks on democracy and voting rights at the historic ebenezer baptist church. he will be the first sitting president where martin luther king, jr. used to preach. stay with us. i brought in ensure max protein with 30 grams of protein.
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all right. new today, joe biden has approved disaster declarations for california and alabama, freeing up federal aid to help recovery efforts as both states reel from severe weather. at least seven people were killed in tornadoes that swept across alabama last week. and in california, weeks of torrential rain and mudslides have killed at least 19 people. right now, about 8 million californians are under flood watches, as a new wave of powerful storms pushes in. the risk of potentially dangerous flooding and mudslide s are much higher because the ground in many areas are just so saturated to absorb the water. so alison, california, it's getting a little bit of a break right now, but what is on the
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horizon? >> hopefully a much longer period of relief. right now, we have a few spots getting light rain. that's a good thing. you don't want the heavy downpours we have been seeing. but we are going to see another atmospheric river event push back into the state as we go to the afternoon and evening. this system is bringing rain and snow to the pacific northwest. this area of cloud also be the secondary system that pushes more rain and snow into central and southern california for the latter half of the day today. we do still have flood watches in california. this includes san francisco, san jose, through monterey. it's the combination of the new rain we anticipate getting today. but on top of all of the rain we have been seeing the last two to three weeks. you can see those two different systems pushing in. the first system in the pacific northwest, the secondary system funneling that moisture in around dinnertime tonight. that will continue through the
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day on monday. it spreads that moisture into the intermountain west. so you have arizona, utah, nevada looking at a lot of moisture here. the sierras expecting upwards of three feet of snow on top of what they already had. because of that, you still have winter storm warnings in effect. not just for california. a lot of this as we go into the intermountain west shows you the impact of spreading. you have wind advisories in california, but you are seeing those spread into new mexico, texas, arizona. because as that system pushes east, it will take the threat for wind with it. the good news, by the time we get to the end of this week, we start to see a drier pattern set in for areas of california. >> very good. alison, thank you so much for that. again, we continue to watch ebenezer church here in atlanta. that's senator raphael warnock, the pastor, and his special
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guest, the president of the united states. he will be introduced and speak and we'll take that live. meantime, the president is marking the martin luther king, jr. holiday at the very church where the civil rights leader once preached. biden will be the first sitting president to speak for a sunday service at that church. joining us now, the executive director of the aclu in georgia, andrea young, and daughter of former ambassador andrew young. great to see you. >> great to be here today. >> your father was a close confidant of dr. king, one of the original civil rights foot soldiers. and he's in the audience there today, correct? and what does this mean for you, that this is the first time a sitting president will be an invited speaker at ebenezer. >> well, i think, you know, what i look at is it see reverend senator raphael warnock, who is
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so much the culmination of the voting rights act, for the civil rights act. i think for president biden to acknowledge that today is quite appropriate and quite remarkable. and i love that america and the world really is seeing the source of power of the civil rights movement, which was the church. >> uh-huh. >> that we see on display today. >> and biden's adviser, the former mayor of atlanta, says today he will speak on issues, including how important it is we have access to our democracy. of course, georgia has been pivotal, at the center point of so much. whether it be voter turnout, which has been record breaking. whether it be the restrictions placed on voting access. of course, the efforts to overturn a free and fair election. and i wonder if there's an
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expectation that maybe a disproportionate amount of expectation for this president, this congress, to address or right some of those wrongs. >> i know that one of senator warnock's priorities is the restoration of the voting rights act, which was gutted. we do see more barriers erected on voting as a result of no longer having -- we think this is probably the top priority that i know senator warnock and the president should have for the health of our democracy. >> all right. andrea young, i'm listening to you in one ear and listening to reverend warnock with the other. we expect he will introduce the president of the united states with his sermon. that is what it's being called. joe biden will be delivering a sermon there at ebenezer, as we continue to watch. we'll take a short break. you'll stay here with me, because i can't wait to hear your thoughts about what we do
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welcome back. congress could be headed for a debt ceiling showdown in the coming days. the treasury department to you says the u.s. will reach its debt limit this week and default as soon as june. newly empowered hardline republicans are demanding deep spending cuts to raise the limit, setting up a major battle with democrats and the biden administration. cnn congressional reporter daniela diaz joins me now from capitol hill. so speaker mccarthy made a lot of promises to secure the speakership.
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how might this impact negotiations? >> a lot of promises, indeed, fred. one of the concessions he made, which one of the holdouts confirmed to championship is a proposal mccarthy is floating within the house gop conference would decide what will be prioritized by congress should congress or the united states reach its debt ceiling. remember, chip roy was a key negotiator with mccarthy, one of the key holdouts. he wasn't supporting mccarthy until this agreement was made. but the bigger picture is mccarthy has a razor thin majority. he will need conservatives and moderates to support legislation to address the debt limit. they want to limit government spending. that is the priority. they don't want to continue to raise the debt ceiling.
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but he's not in a rush. he was on fox news just a few hours ago, where he said we need to take a pause. they plan to address this before the nation defaults on its debt over the summer. take a listen to what he said. >> as we hit this statutory let dimt -- debt limit once again, we have to look at how we got here. the hundreds of billions of dollars the government has, we won't hit our debt limit until this summer. so let's realize why did we get here? >> reporter: the bigger question here too fred, whatever mccarthy decides and passes through the house is going to need senate approval as well. remember, democrats lead that chamber. so he will need democratic support for any legislation they want to pass through congress to address the debt ceiling before it goes to joe biden's desk for signature.
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so we don't expect this to be a one and done easy solution. we expect a lot of debate on this issue. >> negotiations continue. daniela diaz, thanks so much. all right. live pictures right now of ebenezer baptist church in atlanta. this historic church, once pastored by dr. reverend martin luther king, jr. today's special guest to deliver his sermon, the president of the united states. we'll take you there live in a moment. life... doesn't stop for diabetes.
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but where can we get coverage with john's health problems on a fixed income? go with a sure thing. colonial penn. friends have been telling friends about colonial penn guaranteed acceptance whole life insurance for more than 50 years, and with good reason. if you're between the ages of 50 and 85, it's a sure thing. your acceptance is guaranteed because full benefits are not paid in the first two years. you don't need a physical exam and we won't ask about your health. you cannot be turned down. and the price? options start at $9.95 a month, less than 35 cents a day. i don't know. what if the price goes up as we get older? with colonial penn, your rate is another sure thing. it will never increase. that's because it comes with something you won't find in other policies: a lifetime rate lock. the rate you start with is the one you keep, guaranteed. and you should know, this coverage can last a lifetime. some insurance policies end once you reach a certain age. not this one. as long as you pay your premiums, it's yours for life. call the number on your screen now and we'll send you free information by mail. you have nothing to lose, because at colonial penn,
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your satisfaction is another sure thing. every policy we issue comes with a 30-day money back guarantee. if you've been thinking about getting life insurance to help your family with funeral expenses and other bills you may leave behind, call for free information today. there's no obligation, and you'll receive a free beneficiary planner just for calling. (bell dings) same time next week? sure thing. in three seconds, this couple will share a perfect moment. is that? oh wow! but we got to sell our houses! well, almost perfect. don't worry. sell with confidence to opendoor. yes! -done. request a cash offer at i was born here, i'm from here,
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and i'm never leaving here. i'm a new york hotel. yeah, i'm tall - 563 feet 2 inches. i'm on top of the world. i'm looking for someone who needs a weekend in the city, who likes being in the middle of it all. you hungry? i know a place, and a few others nearby. it's the city that never sleeps. but hey, if you need a last-minute spot, i got you covered. welcome back. our camera is trained on joe biden there at the pulpit soon at ebenezer baptist church. this is the church once pastored by dr. martin luther king, jr. in atlanta. right now, you're looking at senator and reverend raphael warnock, who is doing the
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introductions. this is the first time a sitting president has delivered a sermon at ebenezer. let's listen in right now to the introduction that senator warnock is giving ahead of the president of the united states. >> welcome, christine king farris. [ applause ] christine king-farris, the only remaining member of that famous family when we see daddy king and momma king and martin luther king, jr. and his siblings. she's the only one left, and at age 95, she still worships every sunday. [ applause ]
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we are always glad to see her, and through it all, god has been with her. let's hear it for the king family. [ applause ] thank you. >> all right. introduction there of a 95-year-old sister of the late martin luther king, jr. today would have been his 94th birthday. again, joining me right now the director of the aclu in atlanta, georgia, andrea young, the daughter of former ambassador andrew young, who is there in the audience, along with senator ossof, and also a member of
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congress, lucy mcbath. what is it like to be in the ebenezer church? kind of set the stage for us. i've been in the old church across the street. but this is the newer rendition of ebenezer, its larger obviously more modern, it accommodates more people. but there is a special feeling when you go to a service or even if you are a visitor of ebenezer. describe it for me. >> you know, this is the cathedral church of atlanta, the cathedral church of the civil rights movement. we celebrated john lewis' funeral there. we celebrate the king holiday every year. there will be a service tomorrow. and so this is the place that we come to remember, and also to be renewed for continuing the work of dr. king, non-violent social change, the beloved community that every person is able to
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live with dignity and respect. not just in america, but in this world. and so that's the spirit of ebenezer. >> that renewal is a really important message, especially on his birthday which is also now a federal holiday. i hear many civil rights, you know, foot soldiers talk about how it's important to reengage. this is a moment to be a reminder of reengaging in those things that dr. king, you know, sacrificed his life for. he didn't look at it as sacrifice, but this was part of his fight for america. for global change on fighting poverty. you know, fighting for equity, voting rights. talk to me about that effort or energy of reen reen gauging th
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legacy of dr. king. >> this is very important in the struggle to sustain our voting rights. we see the attack on access to the ballot. we see the election deniers. this resistance to a multicultural democracy, which is what we began to have with the passage of the voting rights act. so one of the things that they didn't really focus on in this picture, but three mayors of atlanta were sitting in a row. the current mayor, keisha lance bottoms -- >> and your dad. >> this is possible because of the voting rights act. as you can see, atlanta is thriving under the leadership of black mayors that we have had. so that in mparticular is something that we have to be reminded of today. that we really are in a struggle for our very democracy. and dr. king always said that. we are in a struggle for the soul of america.
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will we be a multicultural democracy. will we live up to the creed that all men are created equal or will we go backwards? >> and joe biden was a great benefactor of that multicultural vote of the black vote, of women voters. and of georgia. i mean, you know, i wonder if there is, you know, a pronounced bit of both anxiety and pressure on this president to address these things that are at the top of the list of, you know, all of the sects of voters i just mentioned, even though he, now with a republican -- narrowly controlled republican congress, he may be swimming upstream on some of the items on his agenda, which would have addressed that he has said on the campaign trail and early on in his presidency, that he once addressed right away. >> well, joe biden is the
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president, and so an enormous amount of legislation, important legislation was passed in the last congress, that now can be implemented. and can be implemented in a way that uplifts diverse communities. so if we do infrastructure in a way that increases employment and renewed participation of workers of color, lifts their wages, improves their benefits, that has a tremendous impact on the legacy of this president. and again, fulfilling the legacy of dr. king, because dr. king, as we know, was fighting for garbage workers when he was assassinated. he was launching a campaign for poor people, and for economic justice in america, a multicultural effort. so these things, you know, do continue his legacy. >> right. isn't it something that we are talking about 55 years, you
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know, after the assassination of dr. king. and still at the forefront are the fights for equity and the effort to eradicate or address poverty. these are continuations. so i wonder for you, as the daughter of a civil rights soldier, as the director of the aclu, if there are moments where you wonder what has happened to the dream? is it unattainable? is it challenged because we are talking about a continuation of the reach of things that dr. king professed about 55 years ago. >> yeah, yeah. >> right up until his assassination. >> well, you know, as the old folks said, freedom is a constant struggle. we struggled so long, we must be free. and so we do have to continually work for these things.
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when folks ask me well, are you discouraged? i have to say fredricka, 55 years ago, you and i would not be sitting here on this camera talking about what the president is doing, right? so there has been -- there have been tremendous changes. but there's sort of a sense of the more you do, the more you know there is to do. and the more we really -- when we think about what is equality, what is equity, who is left out of the story. women were not the prominent focus 55 years ago that they are today. hispanics, the disabled, there's so many groups now, lbgtq folks who we now are fighting for their full participation in our society that were not quite on the radar 55 years ago. so we have come a long way in terms of our inclusiveness and who we really understand we've got to fight for, so that we
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really do have an equitable and just society. >> absolutely. there's no doubt that there has been tremendous progress, and it continues to be measured. even in the words and the spirit of the late congressman john lewis. he said it in selma before his passing. that you have to fight to keep the progress that has been made, and you have to continue to fight for the ongoing reach. and i wonder what are your concerns about that message resonating particularly with young people who do have to pick up the baton? many of whom are already doing so. >> i think you see the black lives matter movement, which was a multicultural, multiracial movement for black lives. some of the events in atlanta right here at cnn center, there would be so many allies that were supporting that movement. and we saw in georgia the impact
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because the folks in the black lives matter movement did go into the voting booth and elected more progressive district attorneys, more progressive sheriffs. you know, they elected senators warnock and ossaf who have been working for criminal justice reform. sometimes we have to remind them that, yes, the things you did, did create change, created very important change. as we continue to exercise the right to vote and to vote for the things that matter to black and brown communities, we can have an impact on what the policies are that impact our communities. >> where is your hope meter? your dream meter? >> you know, i think that we are in sort of the best of times, the worst of times. i think of my ancestors who came out of slavery and built
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churches and schools and so forth. i think african americans today have so many more resources. there's so many incredible, talented people of conscience. i think we just have to renew those efforts and remember that there are -- there is always the need to be -- to be inclusive, intentional inclusive, anti-racist, resist, some of the legacy that we have of making some people lesser. and it's something we all have to struggle with. we all have our blind spots. but i think this younger generation is -- frankly, i think a lot of the baby boomers also, we are -- i think we are still in the fight to make this country live up to its creed. >> we're looking forward to the content of the president's remarks there from ebenezer. we know that he will be talking about the importance of
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democracy, of voting rights. he's also a man of the church. you know, you mentioned visiting ebenezer is a moment of renewal. knowing that this president is being dogged by a lot right now. he's felt the momentum of his agenda, but now the momentum being met with this drip, drip, drip of investigations surrounding documents located at his former vice presidential office, as well as at his home. what is your sense of a feeling of renewal that this president or recalibration might even gain from this moment at ebenezer today? >> i think it's an important reset to be reminded of what -- what the biden presidency -- what the aspirations that people have were, for the biden presidency. i think i've heard that
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enrollment in the affordable care act is the highest it's ever been. we know that the infrastructure is going to begin to restore a lot of our mass transit systems and bridges and so forth. we're getting -- georgia is getting solar and battery plants that i know senator ossof and warnock were instrumental in. so much of this was made on climate, which all of us have to be concerned with. whatever you issue, is my grandchild needs a planet to live on. so we need to focus more on majors. there's a lot of -- it's always -- you can always find something to criticize. but let's talk about what are the major things that we have accomplished, and what are we going to do to make those things really fulfill the promise that they have? certainly at the aclu, we will be looking to see is there equity in how these programs roll out?
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is it going to lift people from the bottom or are we -- you know, we've got to do something to deal with this inequality. i was looking at a statistic that ceo pay has increased by 1,000%, and the average worker by 18%. you know, this is something that has a racial justice implication. and so we have to address these issues. >> andrea young, thank you so much. it looks like it is joe biden's turn now to deliver his sermon, the first sitting president to do so at ebenezer baptist church in atlanta. let's listen in. >> can you all hear me? [ applause ]
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i've spoken before parliaments, kings, queens, leaders of the world. i've been doing this a long time, but this is intimidating. you all are incredible. [ applause ] i may be a practicing catholic. we used to go to 7:30 mass every morning in high school, and then in college before i went to the black church. not a joke. andy knows this. andy, it's so great to see you, man. you're one of the greatest we've ever had. you really are. andy and i took on apartheid in south africa and a whole lot more. they didn't want to see him coming. that's where we organized, to
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march and deseg gregate the cit. we were a slave state, and we had a lot of leftovers that came from that period of time. but i -- any way, that's another time. but i learned a lot, and i promise, if any preacher preached to me back then, i'm not going to be nearly as long as you are. actually, i have a bad reputation for speaking too long. he followed the path of moses, a leader of inspiration, calling on the people not to be afraid. and always, always, as my grandfather would say, keep the faith. he followed the path of joseph, a believer in dreams and the divinity they carry, and the promise they hold. and like john the baptist, he prepared us for the greater hope
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ahead, one who came to bear witness to the light. reverend dr. martin luther king, jr. was a non-violent warrior for justice. who followed the word in a way of his lord and his savior. on this day of remembrance, we gather at dr. king's cherished ebenezer. i say and emphasize the word "cherished" ebenezer. and by the way, every good man, every good brother needs a strong, strong cyster. -- strong sister. you think i'm kidding you. [ applause ] i'm no dr. king, and my sister's not you, but i tell you what, she's smarter, better looking and a bitter person than i am, and she managed all my campaigns. folks, you know, on this day of
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remembrance, as we gather here at this cherished ebenezer to commemorate what would have been dr. king's 94th birthday. we gather to contemplate his moral vision and to commit ourselves to his path. to his path. a path that leads to the beloved community, to this sacred place, that sacred hour, when justice rained down like waters and rig shouse -- righteousness as a mighty stream. folks, to the king it doesn't matter how many years pass, the days of remembrance are difficult. it brings everything back as if it happened yesterday. it's hard for you. i want to thank the king family -- prumpius of me to do
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this, but on behalf of the whole congregation, willing to do this year in and year out. you give so much, so much to the rest of us. we love you all. we love you all. [ applause ] we have to pay tribute to mrs. coretta scott king, who we dearly miss. she led the movement that created the king holiday and so much more. in my view, this is her day as well. [ applause ] and to raphael warnock, reverend, doctor, senator -- [ cheers and applause ] -- congratulations on your historic victory.
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a fellow morehouse man. i've come to a lot of morehouse men. the old saying is you can't tell them much. but i tell you what, we've set up for the first time ever in the white house, the divine nine committee, active every day. i watch how the other graduates take on the morehouse men. you stand in dr. king's pulpit. you carry on his purpose, and this service doesn't stop at the church door. it didn't with dr. king. it doesn't with you. it doesn't with the vast majority of you standing and sitting before me. i want to thank you for the
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honor of being called to america's freedom church. thank you to this congregation and to all the distinguished guests, not only the elected officials who are here today, who have done so much over so many years and so many young people who will do so much more. what's your name, honey? [ applause ] good to see you. maybe i can have a picture with you before i leave, okay? is that all right? [ applause ] i say this with all sincerity. i stand here humbled, being the first sitting president of the united states to have the opportunity to speak at ebenezer sunday service. you've been around for 176
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years. i know i look like it, but i haven't. i'm god fearing to my parents and the nuns and priests who talk me in school, but i'm no preacher. i've tried to walk my faith as you all have. i stand here, inspired by the preacher who was one of meyer only political heroes. andy has heard me say it for year. i have two political heroes, my entire life when i started off as a 22-year-old kid on the east side in the civil rights movement, i got elected when i was 29. i had two heroes -- bobby kennedy. i admired john kennedy, but i never could picture him at my kitchen table, but i could bobby. and no mularkey, dr. king.
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i stand here at a critical juncture for the united states and the world view. some of my colleagues are tired of hearing me saying, we're at an inflection point, a point in world history, what happens in the next six or eight years, will determine what the world looks like for the next 30 to 40 years. it happened after world war ii. it's happening again. the world is changing. there's much at stake, much at stake. you know, the fact is that this is the time of choosing. this is the time of choosing, the choices we have. are we a people who would choose
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democracy over autocracy? couldn't ask that question 15 years ago. everyone would have thought democracy was settled. now for african americans, but the infrastructure was settled. but it's not. it's not. we had to choose a community over chaos. are we the people who are going to choose love over hate? these are the vital questions of our time and the reason why i'm here as your president. i believe dr. king's life and legacy show us the way we should pay attention. i really do. [ applause ] dr. martin luther king was born in a nation where segregation was a tragic fact of life. he had ever reason to believe, as others of his generation did, that history had already been written, that the division could
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be america's destiny. but he rejected that outcome. he heard micah's command to do justice, love mercy, and walk humbling. so often, when people hear about dr. king, people think of his ministry and movement, and most about the epic struggle. but we do well to remember his mission was something deeper. it was spiritual. it was moral. the goal of the southern christian leadership conference, which dr. king led, stated it clearly and boldly, and must be repeated again now -- to redeem the soul of america -- i'm not joking -- to redeem the soul of america. what is the soul of america? it's easy to say, but what is
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the soul of america? the soul is the breadth, the life, the essence of who we are. the soul makes us us. the soul of america is embodied in the sacred proposition that we're all created equal in the image of god. that was the sacred proposition for which dr. king gave his life. it was the sacred proposition rooted in scripture, enshrined in the declaration of independence, the sacred proposition he invoked that day in 1963, when he told my generation about his dream. a dream in which we're all entitled to be treated with -- my father's favorite word -- dignity and respect. a dream in which we all deserve
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liberty and justice, and it's still the task of our time to make that dream a reality, as it's not there yet. [ applause ] to make dr. king's vision tangible, to match the words of the preachers and the poets with our deeds. as the bible teaches us, we must be doers of the world. it's a constant struggle. it's a constant struggle between hope and fear, kindness and cruelty, justice and injustice, against those that traffic in racism, extremism and insurrection. a battle fought on battlefields and bridges from courthouses and ballot boxes to pulpits and
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protests. at our best, the american problem wins out. at our best we hear and heed the injunctions of the lord and the whispers of the angels. well, i don't need to tell you that we're not always at our best. we're fallible. we fail and fall, but faith and history teaches us, no matter how dark the night, joy cometh in the morning. that joy comes with the commandments of scripture -- love the lord thy god with all thy heart, thy mind and thy soul, and love thy neighbor as thyself. easy to say, easy to say


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