By Molly Prince
Potential Democratic presidential nominees Sens. Cory Booker and Bernie Sanders both began Martin Luther King Jr. Day at a historic black church that King was slated to visit in the spring of 1968.
Booker and Sanders joined religious leaders in Columbia, South Carolina’s Zion Baptist Church for a prayer service on Monday morning, followed by a the NCAAP’s annual march to the State House, where they addressed a crowd with back-to-back speeches.
“We’re dissatisfied that we live in a society that’s getting seduced by celebrity and forget that significance is more important than celebrity and purpose is more important than popularity, that we cannot be a nation that loves power more than it loves people. We are dissatisfied,” Booker told the crowd. “This is not a time for us to rest in our country, the work is not done, the dream still demands, the call of our country is still loud, and the question is — are we dissatisfied?”
The theme of the 2019 King Day rally is “Education First: Illuminating the Path to Change.” The South Carolina NCAAP told Politico that Booker was asked to speak at the rally because of his past education advocacy; unlike the majority of congressional Democrats, Booker is an advocate of charter schools.
Conversely, Sanders, who opposes what he refers to as “privately controlled charter school,” decided to stay away from the topic of education. Rather, he focused on President Donald Trump and racism within America.
“Today, we talk about justice and today we talk about racism,” Sanders said. “I must tell you, it gives me no pleasure to tell you that we now have a president of the United States who is a racist … We have a president intentionally, purposefully, is trying to divide us up by the color of our skin, by our gender, by the country we came from, by our religion.”
The trip marks the first appearance of 2019 for both Booker and Sanders in the palmetto state. South Carolina is the first southern state to vote during primary season.
While neither senator has officially announced a 2020 presidential run, both have revealed that they are mulling over launching a bid for the presidency.
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