King’s vision being realized in new president

Published 6:00 am Monday, January 19, 2009

It is a significant coincidence that on the day after we honorone of our great civil rights leaders, we will inaugurate thiscountry’s first black president.

Such will be the situation this week when the country will honorthe memory of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. with a holiday on Monday.Then on Tuesday, millions – either in person in Washington, D.C. oron television – will watch as Barack Obama takes the oath of officeas the nation’s 44th president.

The activities surrounding King and Obama represent majormilestones in the journey toward all people being equal.

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King campaigned for equal rights for all people, and hisbirthday was declared a national holiday in 1983. It served as aworthy and ongoing tribute to a man who represented so much so manypeople.

The realization, at least in part, of King’s dream that men “notbe judged by the color of their skin but by the content of theircharacter” was fulfilled last year when Obama was chosen to be theUnited States’ next president. Voters – including those black,white and of other races – looked beyond Obama’s skin color to seea man in whom they wanted to invest their futures and lead thiscountry for at least the next four years.

Some white citizens no doubt have a little difficulty incomprehending the magnitude of Obama’s election for black citizens,whose history includes decades of slavery, unfair treatment in manyareas of society and outright racial hatred in some parts of thecountry. Obama represents a tangible realization of the idea thatall people are created equal and can – with hard work and effort -attain the loftiest of goals.

While he is black and the significance of his election cannot beunderstated, it is important to remember that Obama will be thepresident for all U.S. citizens.

Obama cannot and will not be able to cater policies to benefitone group of people or another. His efforts must be geared towardbettering the lives of all citizens, regardless of whether they areblack or white, Republican or Democrat or have other differencesthat seek to divide rather than unite.

During his marches and other campaigns, King preached unity andequality.

On Monday we will be reminded of King’s message.

On Tuesday the nation will have the opportunity to unite behindObama – a new symbol of equality – as he begins his journey asPresident of the United States.