By: Brittany Alexander
Fifty years after Dr. King gave his famous “I Have a Dream” speech on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial; President Barack Obama was sworn into his second term on Dr. King’s bible at the opposite end of the National Mall, on the steps of the U.S. Capitol.
An inauguration is a moment for hope. A moment when members of Congress from both sides can appreciate how unique this country is, how blessed we are, and make a pledge toward achieving bipartisanship. It is only the second time Inauguration Day has coincided with Dr. King’s observance. The only other time a presidential inauguration has fallen on Dr. King’s observance was in 1997 at the start of President Bill Clinton’s second term. Clinton intertwined Dr. King’s memory in his inaugural address. The inauguration has enhanced the observance, because it heightens people’s awareness about what Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. stood for. It gives validation to the significant work that he made to this country.
“If it hadn’t been for Martin Luther King Jr., there would be no Barack Obama as president,” says U.S. Rep. John Lewis, who worked with Dr. King in the fight for civil rights during the 1950s and ’60s.
President Obama set the tone of his inauguration by turning the page on the political battles of the past and hoping for something of a fresh start. He acknowledged that he will not be able to “settle every debate or resolve every difference” he made “an obligation to work together.” The details of his plans will be discussed in his State of the Union address on February 12. President Obama is beginning his second term with the highest job approval rating in years. According to ABC News and Washington Post, most Americans also favor Obama’s position on the debt ceiling, gun control measures, and reforms for the immigration system.