King’s Message to Resonate Over Obama Inauguration

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr's legacy and message, celebrated on this day, will be inescapable as President Obama uses King's Bible to take the oath of office:

King_obamaThe King Bible will be stacked on top of the Lincoln Bible for the ceremonial event, according to inaugural planners. Obama will place his left hand on the bibles held by first lady Michelle Obama as he raises his right hand to repeat the oath administered by Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts.

King's children said they were honored to see the bible used for the first time as part of a presidential inauguration.

“We know our father would be deeply moved to see President Obama take the Oath of Office using his bible,” the King family said in a statement. “His ‘traveling bible’ inspired him as he fought for freedom, justice and equality, and we hope it can be a source of strength for the President as he begins his second term."

With that connection come expectations, the NYT notes:

African-Americans remain overwhelmingly supportive of the president, as evidenced by their enthusiastic turnout on Election Day and for the inauguration festivities and Monday’s holiday celebrating Dr. King’s birthday. Thousands of black Americans have descended on Washington from across the nation for the many parties and observances and visits to the King memorial.

They have developed a protective stance toward Mr. Obama, acknowledging the limits of his power and the voraciousness of his critics. Many cite the power of representation, the visual message of a prosperous, cohesive black family being beamed around the country and the world, and the untold aspirations that vision inspires.

But African-Americans roundly reject the notion that Mr. Obama’s election has eased racial tensions or delivered the nation to a new post-racial reality.

Meanwhile, the AP looks at King's quote, "I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.":

Bernice King says her father is asking us "to get to a place — we're obviously not there — but to get to a place where the first thing that we utilize as a measurement is not someone's external designation, but it really is trying to look beyond that into the substance of a person in making certain decisions, to rid ourselves of those kinds of prejudices and biases that we often bring to decisions that we make."

That takes a lot of "psychological work," she says, adding, "He's really challenging us."

Below, the Obama family at the King Memorial in D.C. before its official opening in October 2011.

(Official White House photos by Pete Souza)