MLK: A “Word Magician” and Leader For Whom Faith Was Not a Weapon, But a Bridge

January 12, 2024

Aspen Institute Hosts Discussion to Honor the Life and Legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. with Sen. Rev. Raphael Warnock and Jonathan Eig, author of the best-selling biography, “King: A Life” In Conversation with Anne Mosle

“His ability to motivate people, who then put those words into practice – how he laid his body on the line and inspired others to do it – I said, that’s what I want to do with my life. The ways in which he used his faith not as a weapon but as a bridge – that’s inspired me my entire life.” Senator Reverend Raphael Warnock, on King’s influence in his life

“We have this perception that King in the last year or two in his life became more radical. But I say that he was radical all his life, people just didn’t listen.”Jonathan Eig, on taking on the project of writing a new King biography 

“Change happens every day, it happens in small ways, it often happens when nobody is looking – sometimes those are the most powerful changes. But each act, each intention, each solution adds up.”Anne Mosle, on the lessons of King’s persistent leadership for today’s changemakers   

Contact: Ben Berliner
Aspen Institute

Washington, DC – On Thursday, January 11, 2024, ahead of the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday, Anne Mosle, Vice President at the Aspen Institute, hosted the first in a new series of conversations with leaders and thinkers. Joined by Senator Reverend Raphael Warnock of Georgia and Jonathan Eig, author of the best-selling biography, “King: A Life,” Mosle explored connections between values, leadership, and social impact at an evening gathering in Washington, D.C. The discussion is available to watch online here.

“What lessons of the past can guide us to ensure prosperity and well-being pass from generation to generation,” Mosle asked. “How can we create a world – one Dr. King imagined in his lifetime – where all children and families are respected, valued, and encouraged to achieve their dreams?” 

In a wide-ranging conversation drawing from Eig’s award-winning biography of King, Warnock reflected on his tenure as senior pastor at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, the pulpit where King preached. Warnock spoke about making sure that spirituality wasn’t just a feel-good exercise on Sundays, but that it should inspire action outside of worship. He connected his faith-driven work with his moral imperatives as a U.S. Senator, noting that when he first ran for office he “never believed that faith stops at the church door. That’s where it starts, and it ought to come alive in the work that we do and the public policy that we try to advance and the struggles that we get engaged in.” 

Eig shared insights from his six-plus years of research for the book, including the eager reception from younger audiences who are learning about King, and how the full story of his life means knowing him not just as a figurehead but an imperfect human being “to take him out of that stone monument and make him flesh for readers again. Eig explained, “I wanted to write a book…that showed the true radical and the real man.” 

Mosle emphasized that even as we remember King as an iconic leader, leadership traits are abundant in all people. The opportunity, she said, is to “create the conditions” for those leadership qualities to be “seen, poured into, and lifted up.” Mosle and Warnock both spoke about the importance of proximity, and how the most effective leaders honor the lived experiences of the people and communities they serve. 

In closing, Mosle reflected on how the history of King’s life can serve as a prologue to a future of “provocative possibility.” She also highlighted the call to action and resources available through the W.K. Kellogg Foundation’s National Day of Racial Healing, happening on January 16, 2024. 

To request photos for publication or permission to broadcast clips from this event, please contact Ben Berliner:


About Mosle: Anne Mosle is a Vice President of the Aspen Institute, Founder and Executive Director of Ascend at the Aspen Institute, and founding Co-chair of the Aspen Institute Forum on Women and Girls. Mosle is at the forefront of redesigning social impact to build sustainable pathways to prosperity and well-being for children and families. Under her leadership, Ascend has grown to a network reaching 15 million families. Mosle’s vision and leadership have been recognized with numerous awards including the American Public Health Service Association’s Jerry W. Friedman Health and Human Services Impact Award, the Washington Area Women’s Foundation Visionary Philanthropist Award, and Washingtonian of the Year.   

About Warnock: U.S. Senator Reverend Raphael Warnock was first elected to the U.S. Senate in a special runoff election in January 2021 and reelected in January 2023. For over 16 years, he has served as Senior Pastor at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, Georgia, the former pulpit of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. 

About Eig: Jonathan Eig is an award-winning, best-selling author of “King: A Life” (2023, Farrar, Straus, Giroux). “King” was released to near-universal acclaim and has won numerous awards, including a National Book Award nomination in nonfiction, and recognized by President Barack Obama as a “best book of 2023.” His other New York Times bestselling titles include a biography of Muhammed Ali and Lou Gehrig. Eig, a graduate of Northwestern University Medill School of Journalism, was recently named a “Chicagoan of the Year” by Chicago Magazine.   

About the Aspen Institute: The Aspen Institute is a global nonprofit organization whose purpose is to ignite human potential to build understanding and create new possibilities for a better world. Founded in 1949, the Institute drives change through dialogue, leadership, and action to help solve society’s greatest challenges. It is headquartered in Washington, DC and has a campus in Aspen, Colorado, as well as an international network of partners. For more information, visit

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