Obama to speak at Lincoln Memorial marking 50th anniversary of King speech
President Obama will deliver a speech at the Lincoln Memorial marking the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" address. He will deliver his remarks on the exact spot King delivered his iconic speech.
US President Barack Obama will mark the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King's "I have a dream" speech by speaking from the same steps at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington.
The August 28 event in the US capital will take place on the exact spot where King delivered his famous address on the same day in 1963.
Obama, the first black US president, will speak about the half century that has passed since the "March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom," which culminated with remarks by the Atlanta pastor and civil rights icon.
In 1963 King spoke in front of 250,000 people, explaining his wish for better relations between black and white Americans.
His words were engraved on the steps of the monument where he spoke.
President Lyndon B. Johnson, who took over when president John F. Kennedy was assassinated just four months after King spoke in Washington, signed landmark civil rights laws in 1964 and 1965.
Washington will celebrate the MLK anniversary August 21 through 28 with religious services, a march in King's footsteps and a festival.
Certainly an address by the president of the United States is appropriate. But delivering it on the same spot that King's thundering words helped change America?
Perhaps it's my partisan juices that are flowing too quickly this morning, but this smacks of more narcissism and hubris by the president. Many historians have rated the King speech as the best political address in American history. Does the president honor King or honor himself by duplicating the effort?
As they say in political-speak, "the optics are wrong." If the president is largely targeting his African-American base by performing this stunt, then you can say as a political gesture, it's acceptable.
But shouldn't honoring Dr. King rise above petty politics? Someone should remind the president that he is president of all Americans and that Dr. King belongs to all of us - not one race or interest group.
Mr. Obama's plan just leaves a bad taste in my mouth. I certainly hope he's not planning on going to Gettysburg in November for the 150th anniversary of Lincoln's speech.