Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Clinton Urges Blacks: Live like Dr. King

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Clinton Urges Blacks: Live like Dr. King

Article excerpt

From the pulpit where the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. preached his last sermon, President Bill Clinton denounced on Saturday the violence plaguing black youths as an abuse of hard-won freedoms.

He exhorted church-going blacks in his audience to help restore spiritual values to inner-city neighborhoods.

Clinton spoke to 5,000 blacks attending a Church of God in Christ convocation at the Mason Temple, and he employed the repetitive cadences, shouting and pulpit-pounding of black preaching familiar from his native Arkansas as he decried teen-age gunplay and out-of-wedlock births.

If King, who was assassinated in Memphis in April 1968, were to return today, Clinton said, "how could we explain that we gave people the freedom to succeed and we created conditions in which millions abused that freedom to destroy the things that make life worth living, and life itself?"

He imagined what King might say if he did come back back today:

"I did not live and die to see the American family destroyed.

"I did not live and die to see 13-year-old boys get automatic weapons and gun down 9-year-olds just for the kick of it.

"I did not live and die to see young people destroy their own lives with drugs and then build fortunes destroying the lives of others. That is not what I came here to do."

"I fought for freedom," Clinton added, as he imagined what King might say, "but not for the freedom of people to kill each other with reckless abandon; not for the freedom of children to have children and the fathers of the children walk away from them and abandon them as if they don't amount to anything.

"I fought for people to have the right to work, but not to have whole communities and people abandoned.

"That is not what I lived and died for."

Citing a recent Washington Post account of an 11-year-old black girl planning her own funeral, Clinton said, "The freedom to die before you're a teen-ager is not what Martin Luther King lived and died for. …

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