Obama, King, Lincoln and the Two Idolized Bibles

 [ Masterweb Reports ] – For the first time in the history of presidential inauguration ceremony in the U.S., the first African-American president of the United States of America, President Barack H. Obama demanded to be sworn-in with two respected personal Bibles owed by two revered and iconic figures -- the first Bible belonging to President Abraham Lincoln, the father of the American nation, who did not only abolish slave trade through the Emancipation Proclamation of 1863, but was courageous enough to unite a nation and preserved the Union through a policy of reconciliation despite the opposition from his party. During his second inaugural address on March 4, 1865, as the crowd listened in profound silence, President Lincoln gave a short speech saying the following memorable statement:

 

“With malice toward none; with charity for all; with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in; to bind up the nation’s wounds; to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan–to do all which may achieve and cherish a just, and a lasting peace, among ourselves, and with all nations.”

 

Within weeks after those memorable words, President Lincoln was assassinated by John Wilkes Booth, who listened to the speech on the Capitol steps, not far from where Lincoln spoke. The nation was thrown into mourning and panic.

 

Abraham Lincoln was a pragmatic politician and a man of faith, who was inspired by God and Sacred Scriptures, which gave him strength and courage to condemn slavery and abolished it during his presidency.

 

Likewise, Martin Luther King Jr., a prophet and human rights leader, widely regarded as America’s pre-eminent advocate of nonviolence and one of the greatest nonviolent leaders in world history. Drawing inspiration from both his Christian faith—as a theologian and prophetic preacher and from the wise teachings of Jesus Christ and peaceful teachings of Mahatma Gandhi of India, Dr. King led a nonviolent movement in the late 1950’s and 60’s to achieve legal equality for African Americans in the United States. While other civil rights organizations were advocating for freedom by “any means necessary,” including violence, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. used the power of words and acts of nonviolent resistance, such as protests and grassroots organizing, to achieve seemingly impossible goals.

 

Dr. King prophetically and courageously inspired the United States of America and the world to judge people by the content of their character and not by the color of their skin. His non-violent civil right activities and the famous “I have a Dream” speech, electrified the entire nation to rethink of its segregation and enslavement laws. His powerful oratory and wise leadership freed an entire nation from hate, bigotry and self-destruction and gave millions freedom and hope around the world. Nigeria needs such a person today.

 

Three years after Dr. King’s “I have a Dream” speech, he was abruptly and tragically assassinated at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee, in the morning of April 4th, 1968, by James Earl Ray. Again, the nation was thrown into mourning and uncertainties—especially for African-Americans, who at that point had not achieved much in terms of equality and justice. James Earl Ray and his accomplices shot and killed Dr. King who spent a lifetime engaged in non-violent struggle for critical human and social issues such as poverty, racism, inequality, injustice, and war.

 

And so, like the political pragmatist, Abraham Lincoln, and the prophetic leader, Martin Luther King Jr., Barack Obama, a community organizer, a pragmatic and brilliant politician, who comes shattering centuries-old barriers for African-Americans by being elected the first African-American president of the United States of America in November 2008 and then four years later, was re-elected in an election many pundits and his opponents on the right wrote him off, demands to be sworn-in in his second term with two personal Bibles of his idols. The first presidential election of Barack Obama was in itself historic, but his second term and the special request to be sworn-in with President Lincoln’s Bible and Dr. King’s personal Bible makes it even more symbolic. There is no doubt that President Barack Obama will go down in history not only as the first African-American to occupy the White House, a power house built by his ancestors, but his identification with the two great American iconic leaders of all time.

 

In his speech, which has been rated as powerful and comparable to that of President Abraham Lincoln’s second inaugural address on March 4, 1865, President Barack Obama said, "We reject that Americans must choose between caring for the generation that built this country and investing in the generation that will build its future,”

 

President Obama told the crowd of hundreds of thousands of spectators who descended on the National Mall Monday morning, saying, “The commitments we make to each other--through Medicare, and Medicaid and Social Security--these things do not sap our initiative; they strengthen us. They do not make us a nation of takers; they free us to take the risks that make this country great."

 

Many conservative commentators have said that the president’s speech focused mainly on social programs for the poor, climate change and regrettably on same-sex marriage rights.

 

The issue of gay rights is a policy that moral and public policy watchers like us are struggling to make this famous comparison between these three great men—President Lincoln, Prophet King and President Obama. There is no doubt that the three men existed during three different and radical periods of human history—Lincoln during the 19th century, King in 20th century, and Obama in 21st century, nevertheless, if Lincoln and King were alive today, would they promote gay rights and push people to stay on government handout?

 

In recognition of Martin Luther King Day, Linkage’s Institute for Leading Diversity & Inclusion faculty member and thought leader, Dr. Mary-Frances Winters, was confronted with similar feeling when she asked this question: “If Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was alive today, what he would think about the progress we’ve made towards equality and inclusion?

 

She was of the opinion that some monumental progress of historic proportions has been made for the election of the first Black president, Barack Hussein Obama, in 2008 and his re-election in 2012. However, she also felt that little progress has been in economic and political power for Blacks and Latinos. Humongous problems such as health care, unemployment, racial profiling, hate crimes, moral values, school dropout for black, acts of terrorism and catastrophic violence is commonplace today’s America, she writes.

 

The former UN Ambassador, legislator and Atlanta Mayor Andrew Young—one of Martin Luther King Jr.'s closest aides, in his interview with Newsmax on gun massacres, said, “I’m mindful of the way that Martin Luther King dealt with the gun issue,” "When people showed up at his home with guns after his house had been bombed, he said, ‘No, take your guns home. We have got to find a better way to deal with this problem.’ In fact, he used the Biblical term ‘a more excellent way.’

 
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