January 19, 2009

Barack Obama commentary on MLK Day

Posted: 09:55 AM ET


by President-elect Barack Obama

On the day of the first inauguration to take place in this city, a small band of citizens gathered to watch Thomas Jefferson assume office. Our young and fragile democracy had barely finished a long and contentious election that tested our founding ideals, and there were those who feared our union might not endure.

It was a perilous moment. But Jefferson announced that while we may differ in opinion, we all share the same principles. "Let us, then, fellow citizens, unite with one heart and one mind," he said, urging those assembled to begin anew the work of building a nation.

In the more than two centuries since, inaugurations have taken place during times of war and peace, depression and prosperity. Beneath the unfinished dome of the Capitol, a young lawyer from Illinois swore an oath to defend the Constitution a divided nation threatened to tear apart. In an era of unprecedented crisis, an optimistic New Yorker refused to allow us to succumb to fear. In a time of great change, a young man from Massachusetts convinced us to think anew with regard to serving our fellow man.

(Read the rest of the commentary HERE)

Filed under: Inauguration • President-Elect Obama

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Rose   January 19th, 2009 10:10 am ET

We owe a great debt to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. This debt also extends to all the known and unknown men and women who struggled (and many died) for the cause of freedom and equality. The election of Barack Obama says clearly that many Americans (though not all) can now see past race as an issue. This is a great accomplishment for our nation compared to past decades.

Let us extend our hard fought rights to include people in other countries that our rather selfish foreign policies have oppressed. Let us also speak up and stop acts done in the name of the USA that kills and disenfranchises others around the world.

Thank you again Dr. King. We remember you now and always.

Delphine, the netherlands   January 19th, 2009 10:51 am ET

I am sure, Dr. King is watching from heaven, tomorrow, with a HUGE smile!

Laura   January 19th, 2009 11:56 am ET

I turned my TV on this morning to watch CNN coverage of MLK day. My heart, became full, tears started to well in my eyes. I cried. I cried, when I saw Barack and Michelle Obama. I cried, for Martin Luther King. I cried, for Medgar Evers. I cried for, Nelson Mandala. I cried, for Mother Theresa. I cried, for Ghandi. I cried, for my anchestors, who endured slavery. I cried for all the hungry children in America and around this world. I cried, for the homeless. I cried for all the troops, who are fighting in a uncaused for war. I cried for all the Americans who, like me are trying to make it through this troubled economy. I do not know when these tears will cease to flow, but I do know in my heart. " There is going to be a Change" and I will not have to cry, anymore.
God, has truley, blessed America

Linda Sheridan   January 19th, 2009 12:13 pm ET

Tomorrow will be a great day for America!!! Seeing all the people gathered in Washinton for this wonderful celebration makes me feel proud to be an American. I will be watching the inauguration on CNN with Larry King. You're the best Larry! Linda

Mike Rayl   January 19th, 2009 1:58 pm ET

I have a dream realized...

Natalie   January 19th, 2009 2:24 pm ET

I cannot express in words the excitement I have. The whole entire world is watching America now, as the first man of color is sworn in. America would not be complete without M.L.K's beliefs that all men are created equal. He fought for those who were abused and demanded equal rights. We are blessed as a country to be able to come this far. As a sixteen year old student, I will look back on this event and feel greatful.
Thank you

Alicia   January 19th, 2009 3:04 pm ET

President speaches are always great..
He did a great job as usual and what a presidents should do.


mike jacobs from arizona in mesa   January 19th, 2009 4:04 pm ET

ok my only resonse to all this about obama i mean gongradulations you won good. now you still wont to spend more money we dont have and you are spending i herd over 2b$ on this speach you will give while all of the americans that work there butts of get left behind again when will all of you learn they are only after what they wont and if you are in there way they will take it im just look at our history its tells it all there so hope you do better then the last good luck

mike jacobs from arizona in mesa   January 19th, 2009 4:07 pm ET

ya i think we got the pitcure when you said you cried the first time its all right ok

mike jacobs from arizona in mesa   January 19th, 2009 4:07 pm ET


January 19th, 2009 4:07 pm ET

ya i think we got the pitcure when you said you cried the first time its all right ok

mike jacobs from arizona in mesa   January 19th, 2009 4:16 pm ET

i hope the guy does good but how can i jrust a gov that has lied to me and all of you for more the 50 years

hugh ~ california   January 19th, 2009 4:47 pm ET

Someone on this blog is lying to the rest of us. You can't keep a good man down! Obama will be a great president.

Colleen   January 19th, 2009 5:31 pm ET

I am just curious. Is there any white people attending this inaguration? If so we are certainly not seeing them on CNN. I happen to be white and voted for the man. I am beginning to wonder about who is really going to run this country. I understand why blacks are so excited about all of this. But come on folks. This is getting a bit obnoxious.

Rose   January 19th, 2009 5:58 pm ET

Obama was voted in due to his abilities and intellect as a person. Being black or white, male or female is no longer the indicator. We voted for a person. We have senior officials who are blind or disabled. They were selected for their abilities as people.

Obama is not the son of a past president or admiral. He does not come from money or privilege. He was not handed ready made connections from the "old club". Education, hard work and ability were on his side.

Americans voted for competence. Incompetence in high office was rejected – stating that being a white female but unqualifed for such a role (and I'm not refering to Hillary here) just doesn't cut it.

Rose   January 19th, 2009 6:33 pm ET

Colleen: After the brutal and repressive history that African-Americans have had (understatement), what's wrong with getting "so excited" at this time in history? I wonder if African-Americans ever asked in the past 43 presidential races "who is going to run this country"? It's not obnoxious – it's well deserved to see the fruits of Dr. King's efforts.

Different races voted for and against Obama. Different races will be present at the inauguration. That is, all people will be present at the inauguration.

Mary   January 19th, 2009 7:26 pm ET

From what we have seen we believe that Obama is honest, intelligent and hopefully will be able to turnaround this mess that the USA is in and that has affected the whole world.

One little issue, Obama was born in the U.S.A. which makes him an American - his father was black but let's not forget who gave birth to him – his white English/Irish mother.

Too much emphasis has been put on him being black. Maybe it's the media's fault. Were there no celebrations on his maternal side?

Without prejudice.

JOHNNY LOWREY / JAMES WILSON   January 19th, 2009 7:49 pm ET

Now it is time for individuals living in racist home to come out of the closet.

Marie McCarty   January 19th, 2009 9:15 pm ET

How depressing it must be to the thousands of people out of work, without health insurance, and losing their homes to learn that over One Hundred Fifty Million Dollars is spent on the inauguration. Wouldn't it have made a greater impact on our citizens to have seen Barack Obama sworn in in the White House and the ceremony televised for all to enjoy and this money spent to help our economy and defray some of our nation's debt?

Harold   January 19th, 2009 9:57 pm ET

This is my first blog ever. I want to express the importance of "Being the Change" vs, pointing a finger at Barack Obama and looking for him to make the changes all alone. We are all in this together. Also, the tears will not stop for this African American , 6'5" male 49 year old Accountant as I process my company's payroll tomorrow. I wish I could stay home and celebrate but I think the celebration of being at work will be more productive and more inline with the purpose behind the day.

Gail   January 19th, 2009 10:03 pm ET

I keep hearing all this black this black that. Barack Obama is half white too.It's kinda disrespectful to his mom and grandmother who raised him to just glorify the color of his skin. I heard from Barack Obama during all of the debates and speeches his good moral Kansas ethics and principals. Strong convictions of right and wrong that I also was taught growing up in Nebraska. I heard coming out of him the teachings of his mother and grandmother.So why is his black heritage getting all the credit. It's wrong

Diana Morales   January 19th, 2009 10:08 pm ET

Do us all a favor. leave out african American when you talk about our soon to be president Barrack Obama. We all have eyes. You don't refer to president Bush, as the White president Bush.
Quit putting people in a box. Think outside of the box.

Gerald Noel   January 19th, 2009 10:18 pm ET

Tuesday 20th, 2009 is indeed a historical day. I, myself was in DC earlier today to renew America together as a volunteer. This moment as well as tomorrow give me more strength to believe that one day I will make my own dream come true by dragging Haiti out of misery of all sorts. By establishing real democracy, by creating jobs to the most workable people, and so on. I came to America 9 years ago with a dream to get myself ready to go back home and to help my people. That dream was closed to die until president elect Barack Hussein Obama renew my hope. I was thrilled and honored to shake hand with Mrs Obama today at Robert Kennedy Stadium, and I had time twice to tell her that I am the last hope of my country Haiti that I love deeply. Haiti is living at the mercy of every one, than God bless all his allied. Gerald Noel, Thank you.

Hameed Rathore   January 19th, 2009 10:39 pm ET

Great achivements MR.Pres Elect I would like to work with ur team
on terorrism/on fundamentalist muslim projects especially in pakistan
Is a wish n hope God Bless You

dwight a. aker   January 19th, 2009 10:43 pm ET

as a black man......this single event is the most incredible moment of my life. personally, the dream is fulfilled. once the opportunity to become leader of the free word has been realized, the dream has become reality.......god bless america! retired navy chief petty officer

Samantha from Chicago   January 19th, 2009 11:09 pm ET

I’m very proud of my country and all my American people. Barack Obama will bring the CHANGE we need, but it’s not going to happen instantly. My people please be aware that President-elect has inherited a colossal MESS. My people we must expect things to get WORSE before it gets any better, Brack Obama & Joe Biden are going to work hard to stablize this country. PLEASE give them a chance, do not turn your backs and criticize them, as this is what the enemy wants US to do. People of all religions, we need to pray for our new President and Vice President as they step up and try to right all the wrong that has been done to OUR country.

It’s going to take a lot of time, remember it isn’t going to be a rapid change. This will take much time, we cannot turn the past 8 years around in just one year. Please be patient. Stop worrying of what all this costs. Think not of what your country can do for you, but what you can do for you country.

Ben Costa   January 20th, 2009 12:29 am ET

The Presidential Inauguration Committee showed a lack of character.

Gay Bishop Gene Robinson's prayer at the beginning of the Sunday pre-inauguration celebration was left out of the HBO concert coverage. This was not the fault of HBO, they followed the instructions of the Presidential Inauguration Committee, which has admitted that it was their error (they scheduled the prayer before the start time of the broadcast) and they expressed regret.

It is hard to believe that this was an error, rather than an "error" (in quotes). It is pretty clear that when the PIC realized that they would be kicking off their pre-Inauguration with a prayer by a gay bishop, they became concerned that that much inclusion in their "We Are One" celebration might be a political liability.

Does the Presidential Inauguration Committee and/or Barrack Obama intend to do anything about the slight besides “regretting” the error?

As far as I can tell, there were a very large number of gay people who donated more than their share of hard-earned money, and who worked many more than their fair share of hours on the phones, in the streets, and elsewhere, and in other ways to help get Barrack elected.

During the campaign many Evangelicals, if not Warren himself, did their best in email campaigns and blogs to paint Obama as a "baby killer" and they did all they could to keep him from being elected. Yet Warren, who works actively against gay civil rights, and the Evangelicals are being honored by having their prayer heard by the world.

I understand the concept of trying to include and consolidate one’s opposition into one’s support, but to insult a group of generous and ardent supporters because the time has come when they might be viewed by some as a political liability, is a slap in the face which says that gays are not worthy of recognition and should be kept in a “closet”. It also shows a lack of character and courage on the part of the PIC and Barack Obama.

Racial Victim   January 20th, 2009 12:37 am ET

Segregation still exists. It was used against my son for reporting being threatened daily by african american kids in his Delaware public elementary school.

District got tired of our monthly meetings over two years to complain about the threats and assaults against my son. They sent home a letter saying he was not allowed in his classes when a substitute is in the room and he could not use any restroom in the school except the nurse's restroom.

Is segregation and denying a child an equal education in a public school the answer to not wanting to exert the effort necessary to provide a safe and racially open learning environment.

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