Bernie Sanders arrives at King celebration

Sen. Bernie Sanders arrives at Ebenezer Baptist Church for Martin Luther King Day celebration. (Photo: Leon Stafford)

UPDATE: 1:15 p.m. Rev. Michael Louis Pfleger opened his keynote speech at the King celebration on Monday criticizing President-elect Donald Trump.

Said Pfleger: “Shame on you Mr. Trump on this weekend attacking an icon (John Lewis) of the civil rights movement. You, Mr. Trump, have made yourself the anchor of fake news.”

UPDATE: 11:20 a.m.: Mayor Kasim Reed, running down a list of the attributes of Atlanta and the Congressional Fifth District, including reduced crime and Fortune 500 companies such as Coca-Cola and Delta Air Lines, said he was not antagonized by President-elect Donald Trump's criticism over the weekend of the city.

“You know what I decided, I’m not going to let anybody take my joy,” he said, saying Atlanta has too many positives to let negativity stand in its way. “If the city of Atlanta didn’t exist, America would have to invent it.”

Story: Sen. Bernie Sanders arrived early at Ebenezer Baptist Church, where he will give a tribute during today's Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebration.

Sanders was ushered through a side door without speaking with the press.

Stay tuned for updates on the services and celebration throughout the morning.

The line to get into Ebenezer snaked down Jackson Street as hundreds waited patiently and the church quickly filled up. Those in attendance included Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed, Georgia U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson, and U.S. Rep. Hank Johnson (D-Lithonia).

Boris Stallworth, a West Midtown resident, said he was hoping to here Sanders bridge the gap between both parties.

“I think there’s a lot of hurt and pain,” said Stallworth, who shares a birthday with King. “I’m hoping to hear how he can motivate other people, rally us together to be able to combat that negative energy and encourage everybody to get out and do something great.

“This is a day of love,” he said. “That’s what MLK was about. He stood as a positive role model and figure.”

Jazryah Fulton, 12, of Conyers, said he was excited about the event.

“He fought for our freedom,” Fulton said of King. “He’ll always be remembered even though he’s not here today.”

Ayanna Akovundu, Agnes Scott College, said King Day’s importance is not about having a day off from work.

““It’s not a day that should pass by,” she said. “We should take the time to recognize his contributions and to see what we can do to give more.

“It means possibility,” she said. “The ability to do so many things I can do today and take for granted are because of him. The progress of what he and others fought for, I can’t take that lightly.”

Michelle Baruchman contributed to this article.