Ebenezer Baptist: MLK’s Church Makes New History In Georgia’s Senate Runoff

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tags: African American history, Georgia, Atlanta, Martin Luther King Jr., Ebenezer Baptist Church, Raphael Warnock

On Feb. 4, 1968, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. mounted the pulpit of Atlanta’s Ebenezer Baptist Church, where he’d grown up listening to his father preach against social injustice in a segregated world.

As leader of the civil rights movement, King was often away from the historic Black church led by the Rev. Martin Luther King Sr. But he tried to make it back to Ebenezer for the first and third Sunday services.

Now, exactly two months before his assassination, he delivered a sermon with an uncannily prescient message. In “The Drum Major Instinct,” King — long the target of death threats and one previous assassination attempt — reflected on how he wanted to be remembered when he was gone.

On this Sunday morning, King’s words rose with a thunderous rhythm: “If any of you are around when I have to meet my day, I don’t want a long funeral. And if you get somebody to deliver the eulogy, tell them not to talk too long. ... Tell them not to mention that I have a Nobel Peace Prize — that isn’t important.”

“Make it plain,” his father would often shout, punctuating the sermon with the call-and-response tradition of the Black church.

“I want you to say that I tried to love and serve humanity. Yes, if you want to say that I was a drum major, say that I was a drum major for justice.”

Now a different pastor commands the pulpit at Ebenezer: the Rev. Raphael Warnock, who is running for a seat in the U.S. Senate. Warnock, a Democrat who embraces a platform of social justice in the tradition of Ebenezer’s pastors, faces Republican incumbent Kelly Loeffler on Tuesday in a Georgia runoff election that could decide control of the Senate.

“Somebody asked why a pastor thinks he should serve in the Senate,” Warnock said in a campaign video. “Well, I committed my whole life to service and helping people realize their highest potential. I’ve always thought my impact doesn’t stop at the church door. That’s actually where it starts.”

Read entire article at Washington Post

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