"I love hymns and gospel music, but the idea of turning your music into a tool for evangelism is missing the point. Music is the language of the spirit anyway."
Bono Stops by Ebenezer, Praises Work of Mrs. King, Hands On Atlanta
January 17, 2004
Irish rock singer and activist Bono has read many of the sermons that the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered from the pulpit at Historic Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta.
Saturday he visited the Auburn Avenue landmark, where he embraced Coretta Scott King and praised her civil rights efforts.
"As a student of nonviolence, this place [Ebenezer] is a mecca," said the lead singer of U2.
Bono was being honored Saturday by the King Center for his global activism.
Wearing a long dark coat and his trademark shaded eyeglasses, Bono shook hands with a few members of the surprised standing-room only crowd, strode onstage and kissed Mrs. King on the cheek. She had just completed a televised interview at the Auburn Avenue church. "We look to you" for continued leadership, Bono told Mrs. King.
The event was one of many this weekend marking what would have been King's 75th birthday.
"It's an "extraordinary time to be in an extraordinary city," Bono said from the front of the church, pledging to help activism evolve "from civil rights to human rights."
In Africa just last week, Bono on Saturday repeated his concerns that affordable AIDS drugs are not readily available on the continent.
He and Mrs. King were taking part in the 11th Annual Hands On Atlanta Martin Luther King Jr. Service Summit.
Bono praised the volunteers of Hands On Atlanta saying, "the work continues and changes shape but it's the same spirit" that King advocated. "There is still so much to do."
Bono, an honoree at Saturday evening's "Salute to Greatness Awards," was being recognized for his work in Africa and on global and trade issues.
Mrs. King said that spirituality, political involvement and volunteerism must grow, with a "people-oriented" U.S. society the end result. Young people should learn about MLK's legacy through his and other readings, she said.
Bono, toting a green and white umbrella, escorted Mrs. King out of the church and into a car for their next function.
The entertainer later in the day left flowers at the King crypt, where he spoke with U.S. Rep John Lewis (D-Atlanta) and comedian Chris Tucker. He also met with other AIDS activists at the King Center.
© 2004 The Atlanta Journal-Constitution