King dream seen in Obama win

Published 6:00 am Monday, January 19, 2009

Tuesday’s inauguration of President-elect Barack Obama willlikely make this year’s Martin Luther King Jr. Day the mostmemorable in the holiday’s 26-year history, but black leaders tooktime Saturday night to remember how the nation’s first blackpresident reached his apex.

“Martin Luther King Jr. was what he was because of God, andObama will be who he is because of God,” said New Hope BaptistChurch Pastor Victor Mackabee.

Mackabee was the keynote speaker during the annual MLKcelebration at Alexander Junior High School Saturday.

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“Everyone is putting Obama on a pedestal, but we need to prayfor him,” Mackabee continued. “The fate of our nation lies in thehands of God – no way around that.”

And as God has helped Obama, so too should Obama help to furtherthe reach of God, Mackabee said.

“One of the things I really would like to see him do is worktoward educating our people to understand nothing’s beyond reachwhen we call on God first,” he said. “I think our nation has gotteninto such a deep rut because we try to pull God out ofeverything.”

Mackabee said Obama’s famous slogan – “change” – should be usednot just in the political and social sense, but in the spiritualsense as well.

“Change is not just for one group of people, it’s foreverybody,” he said. “We need to change to a nation under God.We’re realizing the dream tonight because it’s in the right hands -the Lord’s hands. And we’ve received a black man, standing in theWhite House.”

Event chairman Vernell Hooker said this year’s MLK Day will beespecially remembered because Obama is the embodiment of MLK’squest for good in the nation. He said race should not be realizedas the driving force in both leaders’ lives, but rather the peoplethey both represent.

“It’s about what is good for the people,” Hooker said. “You wanta CEO who’s good; not just for the board members, but for theentire company. With Obama, he’ll be a president who’s good – notjust for this group or that group, but for the country.”

Hooker mentioned Obama’s landslide victory on Nov. 4 as theindicator, pointing out that a far greater voting majority thansimply the black vote elected him. Obama’s election, he said,represents American unity on an unprecedented scale.

In the end, however, Hooker said Obama’s promise of change mustbegin within individuals, not from the top down.

“Just like with any president, there may be some things he’sdone or is trying to do that we’re not that crazy about,” he said.”But we’ve got to look for the positives – we’ve spent so much timelooking for the negatives that we don’t see the positives. We can’treally look at the next person and say, ‘change,’ if we’re notchanging.”

Brookhaven’s Beatrice Tyner said this year’s MLK celebrationwould be remembered because, with Obama’s inauguration, the dreamhas finally arrived – 40 years after the dreamer’s death.

“You have to honor his day because he has such a good dream,”she said. “It makes this day that much more special because of hisdream being fulfilled.”

Perhaps no one attending Saturday’s celebration could appreciatethe arrival of the dream better than Josephine C. Peters. She is an85-year-old former teacher at Alexander who remembers when theelection of a black president would have been considered more ahallucination than a dream.

“Things do come in time,” she said.