King is a big reason for President Obama
Earl Ofari Hutchinson | 1/31/2013, 9:35 a.m.
Obama has publicly taken exception to the notion that the Civil Rights Movement is outdated, or worse, that he somehow supplants the ongoing work of civil rights leaders. He has not bought into the notion that his election signals the nation has reached the nirvana of a post-racial society.
Since the first public acknowledgement he made of the debt of gratitude he owes King and the Civil Rights Movement, he has repeatedly praised past civil rights leaders for their heroic battles against racial injustice, and not just yearly during the King holiday celebration.
This is an appropriate tribute to the Civil Rights Movement that challenged the nation to make King’s dream of justice and equality a reality. Obama faced that challenge and defied the racial odds in winning the White House. But he could not have beaten the odds without the recognition by King that political empowerment was the key to racial uplift.
King, though, would likely temper his cheers at the towering progress that blacks and minorities have made in the political arena with the admonition to be vigilant against the attempts by the GOP to roll back those gains through voter gerrymandering, and the passage of a tangle of racially-tinged vote restricted laws. Adding to the danger, some conservatives are loudly trying to prod the Supreme Court to do away completely with the 1965 Voting Rights Act.
King was the driving force to meet and overcome the barriers to black political empowerment. His success is the big reason Obama took and again took the oath of presidential office.
Earl Ofari Hutchinson is an author and political analyst.