Tue, Jan 20, 2009 - Page 1 News List

Obama celebrates Martin Luther King Day in Washington


US president-elect Barack Obama paid homage to slain civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr yesterday, reiterating vows to revive the spirit of sacrifice to overcome war and economic crisis during his upcoming presidency.

As Americans celebrated Martin Luther King Jr Day, David Plouffe, manager of “Obama for America,” said the president-elect planned to spend the day highlighting community service.

“Help kick off an ongoing commitment to serve our communities by taking part in this extraordinary day of service,” Plouffe said in an appeal to Obama followers. “Sign up to attend or host an event in your community and help rebuild America one neighborhood at a time.”

A new CNN/Opinion Research Corp poll showed that nearly seven in 10 African-Americans believe that with the election of Obama, King’s dream of racial equality has been fulfilled. Meanwhile, 84 percent of those surveyed said they approved of how Obama was handling the presidential transition.

On Sunday, the president-elect stood in the shadow of the Lincoln Memorial, dedicated to the slain president who brought the US intact through the Civil War and abolished slavery, and gave a somber assessment of the perils ahead despite the exuberant mood among the crowd.

“In the course of our history, only a handful of generations have been asked to confront challenges as serious as the ones we face right now. Our nation is at war. Our economy is in crisis,” he said.

“I won’t pretend that meeting any one of these challenges will be easy. It will take more than a month or a year, and it will likely take many,” Obama said. “But never forget that the true character of our nation is revealed not during times of comfort and ease, but by the right we do when the moment is hard.”

“I ask you to help reveal that character once more, and together we can carry forward as one nation and one people the legacy of our forefathers that we celebrate today,” he said.

U2, Bruce Springsteen and Stevie Wonder — whose songs were totemic anthems of Obama’s barnstorming rise to power — headlined a concert for a sea of people standing in arctic cold in front of the Lincoln memorial.

It was part of an unprecedented run-up to the inauguration that has generated public enthusiasm and high hopes.

Also See: Change is on the way in Washington

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