January 20th, 2008
01:45 PM ET
15 years ago

Obama urges unity from MLK's pulpit

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i.l.cnn.net/cnn/2008/images/01/20/art.obamachurch.ap.jpg caption="Obama spoke at King’s old church a day before the holiday celebrating his birth."]ATLANTA (CNN) - After a bitter few weeks on the trail, Barack Obama spent Sunday morning talking unity at Ebenezer Baptist Church, where Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. once presided.

He recalled the legacy of discrimination against African-Americans - but challenged the audience at the historic black church to take a look at a few lingering prejudices among some within the community itself.

"And yet, if we are honest with ourselves, we must admit that none of our hands are entirely clean. If we’re honest with ourselves, we’ll acknowledge that our own community has not always been true to King’s vision of a beloved community," he said, citing homophobia, anti-Semitism and anti-immigrant sentiment.

Obama told the congregation Sunday morning that if King could forgive his jailers, "surely we can look past what divides us in our time."

Obama's visit to the city coincided with his Sunday endorsement by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, which cited his "appeal across many of the lines that have divided America, adding that "both Clinton and Obama would make very good presidents, [but] Obama is the person; this is his time."

Georgia voters head to the polls February 5.

In New York City, Hillary Clinton spent the morning at another historic black church, the Abyssinian Baptist Church in Harlem, where she picked up the endorsement of its pastor, the Rev. Calvin Butts.

Obama's chief rival for the Democratic nomination also sounded a conciliatory note Sunday. "I have the highest regard and admiration for my friend and colleague Sen. Barack Obama. I am honored to be running with him," she said. "I hope that this election remains focused on the big challenges that confront us."

Related video: Watch Sen. Obama at the Ebenezer Baptist Church

Related video: Watch Sen. Clinton on Dr. King's legacy

Related video: Watch John Edwards on Dr. King's legacy

–CNN's Chris Welch contributed to this report
soundoff (198 Responses)
  1. Wesley

    I think those who are so negative and those who think this country wil remain down troden are foolish or self seeking. George Bush has done more crime than I count.
    Was there any justice in this administration?

    January 20, 2008 08:23 pm at 8:23 pm |
  2. Wesley

    Margarita, Los Angeles

    So, how many MLK do you need before you/we move on?

    January 20, 2008 08:25 pm at 8:25 pm |
  3. Faith

    For those who are mocking Obama, they just loosing the grip and their voices will only grow louder.
    Obama never said he want to be Dr. King and there will no other Dr. King anyway.
    It is time for us to move on. Shame on us white people to what we did to black people.
    Their time have come and they must move on and be real Americans.

    January 20, 2008 08:27 pm at 8:27 pm |
  4. Greg OH

    Margarita, Los Angeles,

    He hasn't been underhanded, you must be thinking of the Clintons. Like the fliers from Hillary in NV that said to close the doors of the caucus 11:30 instead of 12:00. Obama has copies of these fliers and has called her out on this.

    January 20, 2008 08:29 pm at 8:29 pm |
  5. Abraham

    Now the negative people must come and diminish the power of this holiday and some to try to diminish Obama because you know they must tear him down.
    What a country we are living in.
    Obama is self made adult with a good family and I applaud him from where he come from.

    January 20, 2008 08:30 pm at 8:30 pm |
  6. mhanna

    may god bless him
    never felt any better i cannot stop listening to him what a great moral and character
    obama 08

    January 20, 2008 08:32 pm at 8:32 pm |
  7. david

    M.L.K. was a great hero who gave his life for equality. Today, only the U.S. and Israel celebrate his day. The whole world should!

    January 20, 2008 08:33 pm at 8:33 pm |
  8. Mia, Stafford, VA

    Margarita – A MLK wanna be is a good thing, we should all want to be someone like MLK. I think MLK is a great mentor with a great message, if only more of us tried to unite instead of divide, hope and work for change instead of looking down on others what a wonderful world we would be.

    January 20, 2008 08:39 pm at 8:39 pm |
  9. Naomi

    wow, what minor things white people denied black people. They must be evil indeed!

    January 20, 2008 08:39 pm at 8:39 pm |
  10. Leah DiMarco, TX

    The full 45 minute speech is wonderful!
    I watched it on the computer and also on C-Span tonight.

    If you get a chance catch it when it replays on C-Span again tonight.

    Obama '08

    January 20, 2008 08:40 pm at 8:40 pm |
  11. brain,u.k

    I must say I am ashamed to be British American. I think white people committ the hyniest crime in the whole world.

    Anyway, I am looking forward to see America move past it's evils

    January 20, 2008 08:41 pm at 8:41 pm |
  12. Adam

    It is so sad that this holiday has lost is meaning. Heck, I can remember when it lost its momentum. Too many people now use the MLK holiday as a day off, a day to go shopping, and as a day (because of the time of year) with the "best powder"... you know... SKIING !!! Same as the C-Chavez holiday... You should see the TV commercials! Every brand of canned beans and tortilla chips are all the rage at Safeway! A friend of mine once made a (lousy), that if the MLK holiday were "commemorated" during a summer month, that people would just backyard barbecue. Even sadder

    January 20, 2008 08:42 pm at 8:42 pm |
  13. Helen, GA

    Obama has a big mouth and there is no substance. People are getting carried away. His big mouth works well with the crowd because he has no experience and he can say antyhing he wants to. GO Away....

    January 20, 2008 08:46 pm at 8:46 pm |
  14. James

    What an evil country. I hope we will all be equal, some day.

    January 20, 2008 08:47 pm at 8:47 pm |
  15. spank

    For all the good things and perhaps "no so good" MLK did, HE WOULD BE CRYING AND SPINNING IN HIS GRAVE RIGHT NOW IF HE COULD JUST SEE THE STATE OF BLACK CULTURE AROUND THE USA, MUCH LESS HERE IN THE "KILL ZONES" of Oakland/Richmond/San Pablo and Hunter's Point (which,as the Chronicle just loooooves to remind us, is turning into another Lily White Pacific Heights "fortunes to be made soon" White Suburb. The black community (and I'm white, dare I say this!!) needs to get their **** together ........drug dealing, hooking, illiteracy, SENSELESS, TOTALLY SENSELESS DAILY MURDER, VIOLENCE AND MAYHEM ARE NOT WHAT Dr. KING DIED FOR (or, should I say, was murdered for !!!) Where are the lessons of his legacy being passed down to the current younger generation ? Who's really "keeping it real" anymore except the angry, alienated, and truly HOPELESS YOUTHS OUT KILLING EVERYBODY IN THE STREETS ?? NONE OF THIS IS WHAT Dr. KING WAS ABOUT, PERIOD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    January 20, 2008 08:48 pm at 8:48 pm |
  16. maria & mike

    hillary clinton is a person whom does not know what stand she want to take on issued. mrs clinton lost my vote because she used crying to gain sympathy from the votes. that show me lack of character and conviction. she should stop trying to divide the democratic party by attacking mr. obama.

    she should focus on the issued at hand like health care, poverty, education, and stimulating the economy.

    January 20, 2008 08:49 pm at 8:49 pm |
  17. Frank

    So for black people to live in this world have to suffer?
    God help us all.
    This country should know we are not as devided as they think we are.
    Thank you Obama for making us reflect what Dr. King was reaching for.
    Black people should not be killed and denied rights what makes us all equal and tell then this country tell us we are all Americans!
    Till that time comes where we have equal justice system and equal representatives in the white house, justice is far from over.
    Keep going Obama we will cast our vote to say this must happen!

    January 20, 2008 08:52 pm at 8:52 pm |
  18. isa

    As Democrats what an opportunity we have. A leader who can inspire and lead, instead of the Clintons same old, same old.

    January 20, 2008 08:53 pm at 8:53 pm |
  19. JK

    If you read 'the promised land', you would see how far black people have come. We have an obligation to make our generation better.

    January 20, 2008 08:55 pm at 8:55 pm |
  20. PW Va

    This man, Senator Barack Obama, is PRESIDENTIAL!!!

    January 20, 2008 08:55 pm at 8:55 pm |
  21. askari

    It's MLK day!! Why is Hillary in NY talking about him? She can but he can't. Do you think that the only thing we know how to do is riot–What race button?

    January 20, 2008 08:57 pm at 8:57 pm |
  22. Daniel

    for me the the issue of race should not be an issue at all in this election.Obama is neither a black or a white. And unless anyone is able to prove to me that the gene responsiblity for white skin is a recesssive gene. If so then by extrapolation "black" is superior to "white". But again that will be a narrow view of the whole issue. The fact of the matter is that one must be judged according to one's capability but not by ones race,religion, sexual orientation,nationality.

    January 20, 2008 09:09 pm at 9:09 pm |
  23. mr.fair tax


    January 20, 2008 09:12 pm at 9:12 pm |
  24. Connie

    I one of the reason that I still admire America it is because of freedom of speech for the people. I was just watching the Fox News with Geraldo at large and Ann Coulter made a very good point about Hillary when she mentioned that it took Lyndon B. Johnson to make it a law. Ann Coulter said: She could just focus in the point concerning Obama claimed about John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King she did not have to mention a third party. Meaning, she was whispering racial activity to the ears of the African Americans when she mentioned LBJ. Hillary was very slick! It's obvious and we should not fool ourselves. Hillary means without a white president blacks cannot get no where. No flattery here, this is serious. She can very well be our next president and I see chaos.

    America Face reality ...you are trying to fix the middle east but you have a big tremendous log in your eyes...you must first take out the log from your eyes and let the world see what you can do.

    I am not White American and I am not African American...but I am an American citizen through naturalization ...I was 14 when I came to the USA now I am 46 year old woman. I have four children in this country my youngest is major in constitution law. I am very concern about this country that I took an oath to serve faithfully. At this time, my country looks like a mess. America drop the propaganda and be real! I was not an Obama supporter but after a well study of the democratic candidates. I am NPA... I may well vote for Obama or a Republican. Hillary NEVER! and if she become president I will choose a party which is Republican. I will move to Europe during her time in power.


    January 20, 2008 09:12 pm at 9:12 pm |

    He is not MLK -

    He is not Cesar Chavez -

    He is not Ronald Regan

    WHO IS he... Why does he find the need to sound like everyone else.. Does this man know who he is... or does he pretend to be someone in accordance to his speech delivery... meaning who he's speaking too.

    I thought we would have won NV – didn't he have a 60,000 member group behind him??

    I guess it true - you can talk the talk, but can you walk the walk...


    January 20, 2008 09:20 pm at 9:20 pm |
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