For Martin Luther King III, seeing President Obama take the oath office with his hand on the bible that belonged to his father was stirring experience.
“I found it to be a moving experience, quote moving in fact,” said the son of the iconic civil rights leader. “My wife and I were there as he uttered the oath office,” King said, in an interview with BET.com.
“The president using the bible was incredibly significant. None of us would ever have imagined that a president of the United States, let alone an African-American one, would take the oath of office with his hand on the bible of Martin Luther King on the Martin Luther King national holiday.”
While the inauguration of the nation’s first African-American president took place on the day when the nation commemorated the 84th birthday of the civil rights leader and Nobel Peace Prize recipient, King said that they were men with very different approaches to life.
“The president, who is the most powerful man in the world, is elected by the people of the United States,” King said. “But Dad was never elected and never considered being an elected official. The president has to govern and provide a vision of how to get things done thr0ugh government. On the other hand, dad felt he had a spiritual mandate to articulate a vision that has not come to fruition yet.”
President Obama, he said, had accomplished some “incredible things in a number of areas. Speficially, he named the Affordable Care Act as an initiative that would provide heaoth care coverage to Americans who desperately need it. He also said that Obama’s positions on gun violence were commendable,
But King, who is 55 and deeply immersed in civil rights activism, said that he would like to see the government pay more attention to the problems of the poor in the United States.
“One of the greatest challenges we face as a nation is now is how we address the growing number of poor people in our society,” King added. “There are serious issues relating to the poor. For example, there are a number of people who obtained their first home and where on their way to the middle class. Then, the mortgage crises hit and ushered many of them back into to poverty. How does the nation address that?”
King is a human rights activist who once led the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, the civil rights group founded by his father. He said he now immersed in an effort with a number of civil rights groups and labor unions to commemorate the anniversaries of several significant milestones in the history of African-Americans.
“This year, there is the 45th anniversary of the sanitation workers’ strike that my father was involved in when he was killed,” he said. “There is the 45th anniversary of the Poor People’s Campaign, which he was not able to see. It’s also the 50th anniversary of the 'Letter from Birmingham Jail' and the March on Washington. There is a lot to observe.”
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(Photo: AP Photo/Amel Emric, File)