Rev. Raphael Warnock of Atlanta's Ebenezer Baptist Church
ATLANTA -- Gov. Nathan Deal's speech during the 46th Martin Luther King Jr. Annual Commemorative Service at Ebenezer Baptist Church on Monday was warmly received, but the energy level reached fever pitch long after Deal had gone and the church's pastor delivered a message that warned of wealth inequality and what he said is the need to expand Medicaid in Georgia.
COMPLETE COVERAGE | MLK Day in metro Atlanta
Deal, who is running for re-election this year, spoke of King as a man of God who was a man of action.
"I think it's time for Georgia's leaders to follow in Dr. King's footsteps and take action too," Deal said. "Not many states can boast a native son who has merited a national holiday. But we Georgians can. Dr. King lived during a time when the law required discrimination against some of our citizens. That's why, working with the General Assembly in this 2014 session, I'm committed to finding an appropriate way to honor Dr. King on Capitol Hill."
Deal closed by quoting Dr. King: "The time is always right to do what's right." Then added, "Well, I think we're doing what's right ... I appreciate your partnership in this quest for justice, and I appreciate the chance today to celebrate the life and legacy of a proud son of Georgia, who stands tall as one of the greatest Americans to ever live."
Later, during the three-and-a-half-hour service, Ebenezer Senior Pastor Raphael Warnock shared his message. Warnock warned that 1 percent of the U.S. population owns 40 percent of the wealth, urged Congress to push for a higher minimum wage and to extend unemployment insurance, and said it is vital for everyone to have access to affordable health care.
"Let's say to our governor, 'Expand Medicaid,'" Warnock said to a long standing applause. "There's no good reason to not expand Medicaid. Georgia has the fifth highest number of uninsured people."
As though talking to deal himself, Warnock added, "Glad we are going to honor Dr. King. Let's build a monument, but the monument ought to inspire us to build a better world ... If you really want to believe in Dr. King, we have got to help poor people."
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(Atlanta Business Chronicle)