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Bush Booed by Protesters at Martin Luther King's Grave

StoryJanuary 16, 2004
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President Bush visited the grave of Rev Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in Atlanta to pay tribute to the civil rights leader on the 75th anniversary of his birthday. Tight security accompanying Bush’s visit limited access to visitors. We go to Atlanta to speak with the Rev. James Orange. [includes transcript]

President Bush visited the grave Rev Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in Atlanta yesterday to pay tribute to the civil rights leader on the anniversary of his birthday. King would have been 75 years old.

Access to the historic Ebeneezer Baptist Church near the memorial site was limited due to the tight security accompanying the president’s visit.

Bush was accompanied by King’s widow Coretta Scott King, and sister, Christine King Farris. Protesters booed loudly at Bush as he laid a wreath at King’s grave.

Bush’s visit was followed by a 2,000 dollar-a-person fund-raiser in Atlanta in which he raised $2.3 million

  • Rev. James Orange, Chairperson for the Martin Luther King March Committee. He attended yesterday’s program honoring King at Ebeneezer Baptist Church. Rev. Orange was a member of King’s staff and was with him when he was assassinated.

TRANSCRIPT
This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: We go now to Reverend James Orange, Chair of the Martin Luther King March Committee. He was at the program yesterday at the Ebenezer Baptist Church. He was also a member of King’s staff and was with him when he was assassinated in Memphis. Welcome to Democracy Now!, Reverend Orange.

REVEREND JAMES ORANGE: Good morning, Amy. Good morning, Juan.

AMY GOODMAN: Can you tell us what happened yesterday?

REVEREND JAMES ORANGE: Well, it was a lot of angry people who was unable to get to the human rights immigration conference that we had set up at Dr. King’s old church, where he pastored for so many years. The important thing is that we hear a lot of conference. The word has come down early on that the secret service wouldn’t allow us to do the conference, that we had to end our conference at 2:00 p.m. Yesterday, and I just said that there’s no way that Martin Luther King stood for human rights throughout the world. We had Maria Elena DeRosa and Patricia Ford and many others on tap to be there. People wanted to get there to hear them talk about immigrants — immigrant workers and immigrant rights. So that we could deal a better relationship in conjunction with the King and non-violence.

JUAN GONZALEZ: Reverend Orange, your reaction to this symbolic act of President Bush coming there to Atlanta, given the fact that the kinds of policies that obviously Dr. — that he has been implementing which Dr. King most obviously would have been opposed to.

REVEREND JAMES ORANGE: Well, had this been not an election year, he wouldn’t have come. He didn’t come last year. He department come the year he was elected. He didn’t come the year after he was elected, but being an election year, it was time for him to show his face to the people and impose his will on us of doing celebrations that we have been doing since 19 — really, since 1971. We have — we thought it was a slap in the face.

AMY GOODMAN: But ultimately, you were allowed out of Ebenezer Baptist Church, or at least you weren’t locked into it as the secret service originally threatened that you would have to end your program

REVEREND JAMES ORANGE: How can you get locked in God’s house? We want god to be locked in us, not away from us.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, Reverend Orange, we want to thank you very much for being with us and let our listeners know that following yesterday’s program, on the real birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King, federal holiday Monday will be bringing you Dr. King in his own wards words. We were speaking with Reverend James Orange, Chair of the Martin Luther King March Committee.

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