WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama honored the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. on Monday by joining a painting project at a school on Capitol Hill.
On the federal holiday named for the slain civil rights leader, Obama brought his family to Stuart Hobson Middle School, where he and first lady Michelle Obama helped paint bright red apple characters on pillars in the lunchroom to encourage healthier eating.
Their daughters, Malia, 12, and Sasha, 9, sat separately at tables and worked on other painting projects.
Obama said King's legacy is also about service, in addition to his pursuit of justice and equality. Obama urged Americans to get out into their communities on Monday — a step he suggested would have special meaning after the Jan. 8 shooting rampage in Tucson, Ariz.
"After a painful week where so many of us were focused on tragedy, it's good for us to remind ourselves of what this country is all about," he told reporters. "This kind of service project is what's best in us."
Monday also was Michelle Obama's 47th birthday. To mark it, the volunteers and others at the school — including the president and his daughters — sang the Stevie Wonder version of "Happy Birthday." The musician wrote it to honor King.
The first couple went to The Source, famous chef Wolfgang Puck's restaurant at the Newseum, for a date night and birthday dinner Monday evening.