MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Vice President Mike Pence is in Memphis to honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. ahead of Dr. King’s holiday.
Pence arrived at the Memphis airport shortly before 10 a.m. Sunday.
At 12:40, he began his remarks on King at Holy City Church of God in Christ in Raleigh, calling King “a great American leader,” and saying he had come to pay a debt of respect.
“He challenged our nation to live up to its highest ideals,” Pence said.
“Dr. King knew, where the spirit of the Lord was, there was freedom.”
Some of the parishioners we spoke with say the special guest felt like it was just another person joining the service.
“It ain’t no big thing to me really,” one person said. “To be honest, it’s just another person.”
He also talked about the work the Trump administration was doing to increase opportunity for underserved areas and to reform the criminal justice system. Pence said African-American unemployment was at “the lowest level ever recorded.”
Pence began the day with a tour of the National Civil Rights Museum — at the site of the Lorraine Motel where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated in 1968.
Pence said he was deeply moved by the experience at the museum but some say they were skeptical about the visit.
“One of the questions I asked is ‘why are you coming to Memphis and why are you coming to the museum?’,” Faith Morris with the National Civil Rights Museum said. “You know, I needed to make sure the intentions were really what we do here and it clearly was.”
Monday is the observance of Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
Bishop Brandon Porter of Greater Community Temple, and a COGIC board member, said the White House considered his church and Mason Temple before deciding on Holy City.
“The Church of God In Christ (COGIC) does not control who a pastor allows in his pulpit, but we as a National Church Organization are not supporters or endorsers of President Donald Trump or any other party,” Porter wrote in a statement.
Porter said COGIC is bipartisan, but “supports pro-life interest” and marriage “God’s way” between a man and a woman, as well as gun control, efforts to reduce police brutality and opposition to racism.