Inauguration: Justice and Equality

January 21, 2013

Capitol decorated for 2009 inauguration. Photo by Wendy L. Doromal ©2009

How appropriate that President Obama will be sworn in publicly for his second term on Martin Luther King Day. He will take the oath of office by placing his hand on the bibles that belonged to President Abraham Lincoln and Dr. Martin Luther Ling, Jr., two great Americans who fought for equality and justice, the major themes of the Obama Administration.

It is also remarkable that today's inauguration marks 150 years since President Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation and 50 years since Dr. King delivered his iconic "I Have A Dream Speech" during the March on Washington.

It is also fitting that Merlie Evers-Williams will be delivering the invocation at the President's inauguration. Fifty years ago her husband, civil rights leader Medgar Evers, was assassinated.  Fifty years ago she was scheduled to join Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. as one of the speakers at the March on Washington. Travelling from Boston to Washington, DC she did not make it in time to speak at that event, which she said was a huge disappointment to her. Today President Obama has given her the chance to speak and fulfill her destiny.

Lincoln Memorial Photo by W. L. Doromal ©2012

President Obama will take his oath of office and deliver his inaugural address on the steps of the Capitol facing the Lincoln Memorial where 50 years ago in 1963, Dr. King delivered his famous speech. We can expect that President Obama's inaugural address will call for an end to our nation's  racial, political and economic divisions, just as Lincoln and King did through their speeches delivered so many years ago.

King fought for civil, economic, political and human rights. He rallied to end to racism and discrimination. These are the themes that are at the heart of today's immigration issue. Surely President Obama will address this issue today.

King's civil rights movement was founded on the principle on nonviolence. A gun took the life of Dr. King, just as guns take the lives of tens of thousands of Americans every year. I expect that President Obama will also address this pressing issue.

King lost his life fighting for economic justice and equality for the poor. As we witness the rapid shrinking of the middle class and rise of poverty across the nation, we cannot doubt that this too will be a major theme of the president's address.

 Martin Luther King Memorial, Photo by W. L. Doromal ©2011
It is time not just to speak about theses issues, debate these issues, but to act upon them. I hope that the next four years we will see a divided nation and Congress come together to fight for the reforms we need to ensure justice and equality for everyone who calls the United States of America home.