According to a White House press release, “The President and First Lady will participate in a community service project at the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Washington, in celebration of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service and in honor of Dr. King’s life and legacy. They will be joined by Senior Advisor Valerie Jarrett, Assistant to the President and Cabinet Secretary Broderick Johnson, and Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) CEO Wendy Spencer.”
Everybody’s doing it. From the President and First Lady to VP Joe Biden to Senior Administration officials, the White House is celebrating Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. National Day of Service by getting involved in community projects and events.
President Obama wrote in the proclamation that one of the lessons Dr. King taught us was that “equality requires more than the absence of oppression; it requires the presence of economic opportunity.”
The President continued:
In a world full of poverty, he called for empathy; in the face of brutality, he placed his faith in non-violence. His teachings remind us we have a duty to fight against poverty, even if we are wealthy; to care about the child in the decrepit school long after our own children have found success; and to show compassion toward the immigrant family, knowing that we were strangers once, too. Dr. King transformed the concepts of justice, liberty, and equality, and as he led marches and protests and raised his voice, he changed the course of history.
Obama urged, “We must stand together for good jobs, fair wages, safe neighborhoods, and quality education. With one voice, we must ensure the scales of justice work equally for all — considering not only how justice is applied, but also how it is perceived and experienced. As Dr. King told us, ‘injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere,’ and this remains our great unfinished business.”
Urging citizens to get involved, to take a stand for democracy, the President wrote, “I encourage all Americans to observe this day with appropriate civic, community, and service projects in honor of Dr. King and to visit www.MLKDay.gov to find Martin Luther King, Jr., Day of Service projects across our country.”
With the same kind of lust for justice and freedom as evinced by our founders and by Dr. King Jr., the President concluded, “As one people, we will show when ordinary citizens come together to participate in the democracy we love, justice will not be denied.”
It is moments like this when this President soars in a way that is not often acknowledged. He inspires and leads by example. He urges people to be involved in their democracy. He pushes them to the table, to be seen and heard. As anyone who has had to fight for equality and freedom knows, that seat was hard won and should not be taken for granted.
We are always in a fight for justice. There will always be oppressors. There will always be injustice. But there will also always be the human spirit fighting against those things. There isn’t a better way to honor Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr day than to let love win over hate, which means hope wins.
Hope brings people to the table. It gets them involved. Without hope there can be no real democracy.
This side of President Obama, this Kennedy-esque ability to inspire, is no small thing. Republicans distort it, diminish it and mock it because of its power, and the press ignores it because it’s hard to quantify and doesn’t seem policy oriented or political.
But in reality, the personal is political and the political is personal. There is nothing more personal than standing up for freedom for everyone. And a person who can inspire others to do that is a powerful person. Unusual, unrivaled, and precious to those who value democracy.
President Obama is putting the words of Martin Luther King into action on MLK Day.
Ms. Jones is the editor-in-chief of PoliticusUSA.
Sarah hosts Politicus News and co-hosts Politicus Radio. Her analysis has been featured on several national radio, television news programs and talk shows, and print outlets including Stateside with David Shuster, as well as The Washington Post, The Atlantic Wire, CNN, MSNBC, The Week, The Hollywood Reporter, and more.
Sarah has won two Telly Awards and is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists.