Speaking as a part of Samford University's Black History Month series, The Rev. Raphael G. Warnock talked about the Civil Rights Movement and the unfinished business that still needs to be done.
"Black History Month is not just about black people," said Rev. Warnock, pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, Ga., where Martin Luther King, Jr., was pastor. "Black history is really American history. It is about our American story. It is about e pluribus unum, out of many one.
"There is no city in America that ought to understand that better and more clearly than the great city of Birmingham, Alabama. Fifty years ago, this city became the center of what was a magnificent struggle in human freedom.
"It is easy to look back through the rear-view mirror of today and act like the victories of yesterday were inevitable, but they came with a great struggle," said Warnock.
Warnock is the youngest person ever chosen to be the senior pastor at Ebenezer Baptist, where King, his father and grandfather served as pastor. He said he is often asked what it is like to preach in the pulpit where Dr. King stood.
"I often say to people, I am not here to stand in Martin Luther King, Jr.'s shoes, rather I am here to stand on his shoulders.
"While Martin Luther King, Jr. was brilliant and powerful in his work, Black History Month reminds us that he was a part of a long procession of freedom fighters who came before him."
Warnock said it now time for this generation to finish what those who came before us started. "Freedom is not a destination. It is a journey."
Before serving in Atlanta, he was pastor at Abyssinian Baptist Church in New York City and Douglas Memorial Community Church in Baltimore, Md. He first served at Sixth Avenue Baptist Church in Birmingham, where he was ordained.
Sarah Waller is a senior journalism and mass communication major and a news and feature writer in the Office of Marketing and Communication.