Thursday, September 21, 2017
Change: Obama’s Birthday Gift to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
By Senator Roderick D. Wright
Published January 15, 2009

The Presidential Inauguration of Barack Obama, an African American, to the highest office of the United States of America, is a most significant historic event for a country that was built upon exploiting and subjugating African Americans.

Obama's campaign theme of Change caught on like wildfire and spread across racial, class and cultural lines at a time when it became painfully clear that Change had to be made in the direction of America if she was to maintain any semblance of international respect, economic solvency and domestic stability.

It is momentous that on January 20, a Black man will take over the reigns of this country that was rooted in Black enslavement, but it is even more noteworthy that the colossal Inaugural events will occur one day before we celebrate the birthday of that great agent of Change, Civil Rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Millions around the world will watch the Inaugural formalities and recall Dr. King, who dared to dream and struggle for an America where everyone, regardless or race, had a right to the Constitutional promise of "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness."–In other words a decent standard of living.

Just 40 years ago Dr. King fought off dogs, fire hoses and knife attacks in his efforts to change the laws of segregation and inequality that shackled Black people.

Certainly, Obama's candidacy, let alone his victory, could not have happened without Dr. King's Dream of Change and the ultimate sacrifices made by him and the thousands of courageous men, women and children who marched along side him.

If they'd known this day was coming, perhaps the Civil Rights theme song would have been Sam Cooke's "Change is Gona Come,' instead of that old standard "We Shall Overcome."

If Dr. King had lived, he would be 80 years old when Obama is sworn in as President of the United States. But he was assassinated on April 4, 1968 fighting for the rights of Memphis garbage workers to make a living wage under decent conditions.

Dr. King is remembered for his dream of equality, his non-violent civil disobedience and his opposition to the Vietnam War. But, it was his growing efforts on behalf of the poor and his Poor People's Campaign that was his focus shortly before he died.

During these harsh and challenging economic times it is important to remember Dr. King's commitment to economic justice for all Americans. He believed that poverty was "as evil as racism" and caused much of the unrest in America. He blamed war for siphoning off the resources that were needed to create economic equality in America.

Dr. King believed that the American government had an obligation to create opportunity for all Americans .He believed that if American had the will, she had the resources to get rid of poverty.

He would be outraged that millions of Americans are losing their jobs to outsourcing to other countries, while multinational corporations enjoy billions of dollars in tax write-offs

Indeed the rich get richer while America's 37 million poor get poorer. á Barack Obama will expand access to jobs:

He would cringe to see that that too many of our youth of color are locked out of the promise of America by attending public schools that are still separate and unequal.

But Dr. King had faith in the power of Change to move people to do the right thing and correct the wrong.

President-elect Barack Obama has voiced that same faith and has made a promise to create 3 million jobs for Americans over the next two years and to invest $1 billion over five years in transitional jobs and career pathway programs that will help low-income Americans succeed in the workforce.

If President Obama is true to his promise to America's poor to get them back to work, I believe that Dr. King would view the Inauguration of Barack Obama as our 44th President as a great birthday gift, and a step closer to his "Promised Land."


Categories: Op-Ed

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