Nation honors Martin Luther King Jr. during Obama inaugeration

National

Nation honors Martin Luther King Jr. during Obama inaugeration

Posted: Updated:

ATLANTA (AP) — Commemorative events for the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. slid seamlessly into celebrations of the swearing-in Monday of the nation's first black president, with many Americans moved by the reminder of how far the country has come since the 1960s.

"This is the dream that Dr. King talked about in his speech. We see history in the making," said Joyce Oliver, who observed King Day by visiting the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, Tenn., built on the site of the old Lorraine Motel, where King was assassinated in 1968.

In Atlanta, at the 45th annual service for the civil rights leader at the church where he was pastor, those gathered in the sanctuary were invited to stay to watch President Barack Obama's second inauguration on a big-screen TV.

As the nearly three-hour service came to a close at Ebenezer Baptist Church, organizers suggested forgoing the traditional singing of "We Shall Overcome" because the inauguration was about to begin. But the crowd shouted protests, so the choir and congregation sang the civil rights anthem before settling in to watch the events in Washington.

In the nation's capital, several dozen people took turns taking pictures of the King statue before heading to the National Mall, about a 15-minute walk away, for the inauguration.

Nicole Hailey, 34, drove in with her family from Monroe, N.C., a six-hour trip that started at midnight. She attended Obama's first inauguration four years ago and was carrying her Metro ticket from that day, a commemorative one with the president's face printed on it.

She and her family visited the King memorial before staking out a spot for the swearing-in.

"It's Martin Luther King's special day," she said. "We're just celebrating freedom."

At the ceremonial inauguration, Obama took the oath using a Bible that had been owned by King. He called it "a great privilege." The King Bible was one of two used; the other had belonged to President Abraham Lincoln.

In Columbia, S.C., civil rights leaders paused during their annual King Day rally to watch the inauguration on a big screen. Most of the crowd of several hundred stayed to watch Obama's address.

"You feel like anything is possible," Jelin Cunningham, a 15-year-old black girl, said of Obama's presidency. "I've learned words alone can't hurt or stop you, because there have been so many hateful things said about him over the past four years."

At the Atlanta service, King's youngest daughter, Bernice King, said the country had been through a difficult year, with divisive elections, military conflicts and natural disasters.

"We pray that this day will be the beginning of a new day in America," she said. "It will be a day when people draw inspiration from the life and legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. It will be a day when people realize and recognize that if it were not for Dr. King and those who fought the fight fought in that movement, we would not be celebrating this presidency."

She also stressed her father's commitment to nonviolence, saying that after the 1956 bombing of the family's home in Montgomery, Ala., her father stood on the porch and urged an angry, armed crowd to fight not with guns but with Christian love.

"This apostle of nonviolence perhaps introduced one of the bravest experiences of gun control that we've ever heard of in the history of our nation," she said.

The service also kicked off a year of celebrations of the 50th anniversary of King's "I Have a Dream" speech, delivered Aug. 28, 1963, in Washington. A group of students, led by King's great-niece Farris Christine Watkins, delivered sections of the speech in turn.

By the end, the crowd was on its feet, shouting, "Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!"

The keynote speaker was the Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, a socially conservative evangelical association. It marked the first time a Latino had been invited to deliver the King Day address at Ebenezer Baptist.

He urged the audience to work to fulfill King's dream.

"Silence is not an option when 30 million of our brothers and sisters live in poverty," he said. "Silence is not an option when 11 million undocumented individuals continue to live in the shadows."

  • Email Alert Sign Up

    Sign up here to receive breaking news stories from KSWT.com and morning updates to your email inbox.

    * denotes required fields


    Thank you for signing up! You will receive a confirmation email shortly.

KSWT-TV Affiliates

Go to KSWT-TV's Facebook page
  • Most Popular StoriesMost Popular StoriesMore>>

  • Yuma Shooting Victim Identified; Vigil Held

    Yuma Shooting Victim Identified; Vigil Held

    YUMA - Friends and family gathered outside Jimmie Dee's bar Sunday night to say goodbye to Frank Salazar, Jr. Yuma police are confirming the identification of the 28-year-old shooting victim, who diedMore >>
    YUMA - Friends and family gathered outside Jimmie Dee's bar Sunday night to say goodbye to Frank Salazar, Jr. Yuma police are confirming the identification of the 28-year-old shooting victim, who died outside the local bar early Friday morning.More >>
  • Coming soon...Wal-Mart

    Coming soon...Wal-Mart

    On Wednesday the Yuma City Council voted to change the zoning designation on the proposed land acquired by Wal-Mart. The property located near the intersection of Avenue B and 8th Street was the home of a mobile home park as zones for residential use; the new designation changes that to mixed which will allow the new store to move in to the property. The new store will be the fifth Wal-Mart for Yuma County.More >>
    On Wednesday the Yuma City Council voted to change the zoning designation on the proposed land acquired by Wal-Mart. The property located near the intersection of Avenue B and 8th Street was the home of a mobile home park as zones for residential use; the new designation changes that to mixed which will allow the new store to move in to the property. The new store will be the fifth Wal-Mart for Yuma County.More >>
  • Out with the old...

    Out with the old...

    It has been a staple in the Yuma community since the early 70's and the place to meet for the young and old alike. The Southgate Mall now sits on broken asphalt and bares the scares of more than 40 years; decades being passed from owner to owner and now it's set to be torn down to make way for a new more improved shopping center. Today the building has been stripped from within to make way for demolition equipment to tear down the center portion of the mall. Stores like Sear, Burlington and t...More >>
    It has been a staple in the Yuma community since the early 70's and the place to meet for the young and old alike. The Southgate Mall now sits on broken asphalt and bares the scares of more than 40 years; decades being passed from owner to owner and now it's set to be torn down to make way for a new more improved shopping center. Today the building has been stripped from within to make way for demolition equipment to tear down the center portion of the mall. Stores like Sear, Burlington and t...More >>
  • California firm issues nationwide fruit recall

    California firm issues nationwide fruit recall

    A Central California company has issued a voluntary nationwide recall of specific lots of its fresh peaches, plums, nectarines and pluots over concerns of possible listeria contamination.More >>
    A Central California company has issued a voluntary nationwide recall of specific lots of its fresh peaches, plums, nectarines and pluots over concerns of possible listeria contamination.More >>
  • Woman arrested to allegedly smuggling drugs into Calipatria State Prison

    Woman arrested to allegedly smuggling drugs into Calipatria State Prison

    CALIPATRIA, CA - A woman visiting an inmate at a local prison winds up behind bars herself for trying to smuggle in drugs. Calipatria State Prison officials say 25-year-old Veronica Delgado was visitingMore >>
    CALIPATRIA, CA - A woman visiting an inmate at a local prison winds up behind bars herself for trying to smuggle in drugs. Calipatria State Prison officials say 25-year-old Veronica Delgado was visiting an inmate in facility C yesterday, when an officer noticed something in her mouth. More >>
  • National

    Obama warns of delay in social sec. checks and veteran's benefits

    Obama warns of delay in social sec. checks and veteran's benefits

    Web Producer: Lucy Valencia, Assignment Desk Editor WASHINGTON (AP) -- Declaring "we are not a deadbeat nation," President Obama warned on Monday that Social Security checks and veterans' benefits willMore >>
    Declaring "we are not a deadbeat nation," President Obama warned on Monday that Social Security checks and veterans' benefits will be delayed if congressional Republicans fail to increase the government's borrowing authority in a looming showdown over the nation's debt and spending.More >>
  • Officials: Rebar spikes placed on forest roads

    Officials: Rebar spikes placed on forest roads

    Officials say someone is placing sharpened rebar spikes around Forest Service roads in Arizona.More >>
    Officials say someone is placing sharpened rebar spikes around Forest Service roads in Arizona.More >>
  • Website ranks Yuma # 1 for worst place in the U.S. for singles

    Website ranks Yuma # 1 for worst place in the U.S. for singles

    Yuma, AZ - People having trouble finding a date or significant other could blame the local economy according to one website. More >>