Obama pays tribute to Martin Luther King

January 20th, 2009 - 7:10 am ICT by IANS  

Washington, Jan 20 (Xinhua) US president-elect Barack Obama paid tribute to the late African-American civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. Monday, a day before his inauguration as the 44th president of the US. “Today, we celebrate the life of a preacher who, more than forty-five years ago, stood on our national mall in the shadow of Lincoln and shared his dream for our nation,” Obama said Monday, a federal holiday that commemorates the 80th birth anniversary of Martin Luther King.

“His was a vision that all Americans might share the freedom to make of our lives what we will; that our children might climb higher than we would,” Obama said about King, who advocated peaceful resistance and equality among all races.

“Martin Luther King’s was a life lived in loving service to others. As we honour that legacy, it’s not a day just to pause and reflect - it’s a day to act,” he continued.

The president-elect urged the Americans “to turn today’s efforts into an ongoing commitment to enriching the lives of others in their communities, their cities, and their country.”

The Martin Luther King Day is traditionally marked by taking part in volunteer activities for the public good.

Obama also attended community projects in Washington in memory of King, who was assassinated in 1968. Both Obama and King are African Americans.

The president-elect helped paint walls at a shelter for homeless teenagers and had lunch with volunteers supporting American troops at home and overseas. He also visited injured military veterans who fought in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Obama’s inauguration Tuesday, which comes after the Martin Luther King Day , adds to the deep symbolism of the first African American to be sworn in as president of the US.

In the evening, the president-elect was to attend three private dinners to honour former secretary of State Colin Powell, Vice President-elect Joe Biden and Senator John McCain, the 2008 Republican presidential nominee, for their public service.

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