Our AJC colleague Michelle Baruchman contributed this report:
Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders gave a forceful tribute to Martin Luther King Jr. on Monday at the annual Atlanta ceremony celebrating the life of the legendary civil rights leader.
“Real change comes not from the top down, but when millions of people stand up and fight for justice,” Sanders said. “It’s necessary for us to bring his spirit and courage into 2017.”
The speech comes on the 50th anniversary of King’s “Beyond Vietnam” speech, where he warned against racism, materialism and militarism and on the 31st anniversary of King’s death as a national holiday. King, who was assassinated in 1968, would have been 88 this year.
It also was delivered two days after President-elect Donald Trump criticized Rep. John Lewis as “all talk” and his Atlanta-based district as “crime infested.” Lewis was a deputy of King during the civil rights movement, calling him a “big brother” in a tweet today.
Sanders, who ran for president on a progressive platform, praised King’s bravery and criticized those who forgot the opposition he faced while fighting for criminal justice reform and low-wage earners.
“Let us not forget where Dr. King was when he was assassinated. He was standing up with exploited workers in Memphis, Tennessee.”
Sanders called on politicians in Washington who repeat King’s words but are working to dismantle President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act hypocritical, saying King would be outraged.
Watch the address here: