While things have improved since then, Lewis said, there are still important battles today. Among those he said are retooling the Voting Rights Act, New York City’s “Stop and Frisk” law, gay rights, immigration reform, disproportionate incarceration of blacks.
“Too many of us still believe our differences define us, instead of the divine spark that runs through all of human creation,” Lewis said.
Former President Jimmy Carter followed Lewis, heaping praise on their fellow Georgian King, whom Carter called one of the great leaders in American history – Founding Fathers included.
The King family also was a political asset, Carter revealed.
“I was really grateful when the King family adopted me as their presidential candidate in 1976,” Carter said. “Every handshake from Daddy King, every hug from Coretta got me a million Yankee votes.”
Carter, who has spent his post-presidency working toward world peace, said many of King’s speeches and sayings challenge us even today.
Perhaps the best, Carter said, was this: “The crucial question of our time is how to overcome oppression and violence without resorting to oppression and violence.”