News

Obama Pays Tribute to Martin Luther King on Eve of Inauguration

U.S. President-elect Barack Obama, on the eve of his inauguration, is paying tribute to the late civil rights leader Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr.  Mr. Obama also used the day to urge Americans to become involved in community service.

Mr. Obama helped paint walls at a shelter for homeless teenagers and had lunch with volunteers supporting American troops at home and overseas on Monday.

The president-elect also visited injured military veterans who fought in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Mr. Obama's inauguration, coming the day after Monday's federal holiday honoring Martin Luther King, Jr., adds to the deep symbolism of the first African American to be sworn in as President of the United States.

The president-elect, joined by his wife Michelle, thanked volunteers and said such service is an appropriate way to remember the legacy of Reverend King.

"It is fitting that all of you and hundreds of thousands, maybe more than a million people through 11,000 service projects all across the country, today commemorated Dr. King and got involved in this process of remaking America," said Barack Obama.

The 47-year-old president-elect is the son of a black Kenyan father and a white American mother. He grew up in Hawaii and Indonesia.

Mr. Obama will be sworn in as the nation's 44th president on the steps of the U.S. Capitol and will deliver a much-anticipated inaugural address.

He joked about saving his best lines for Tuesday's ceremony and then seemed to hint at what are expected to be some major themes and goals of his presidency.

"I am making a commitment to you as your next president that we are going to make government work," said Mr. Obama. "[Applause and Cheers] We are going to make sure that government is listening to you and focused on you, making sure that people have health care, kids can go to college and people can pay their bills and folks are able to stay in their homes and get good jobs that pay a living wage. That is my job."

Mr. Obama says all Americans must take responsibility for improving their communities and pledged that he and his family will continue working on service projects after he becomes president.

Excitement is already building in Washington and officials are expecting as many as two million people to arrive on the National Mall to witness Mr. Obama's inauguration.

African American Vanessa Wiltz, from Houston, Texas, had tears in her eyes as she described coming to Washington to, as she put it, "soak up history".  

"I just think about my grandmother, and I think about how far we have come as a country and how amazing it is to be here as Americans," said Vanessa Wiltz. "This is awesome. It really is."

Vanessa's sister, Jeneda Wiltz, says she believes the country will unite behind President-elect Obama.

"We are out here witnessing a big step for the citizens of the United States," she said. "We are finally united, not by color, but by people. What our forefathers have fought for so long has finally come to truth."

All around Washington, final preparations are underway for the inauguration and security is expected to be very tight.  Parties, balls and other celebrations will follow Mr. Obama's oath-taking and the inaugural parade.  

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Iraqi Yazidis Fear Death of Their Communityi
X
Sharon Behn
August 03, 2015 2:23 PM
A year ago on August 3, Islamic State militants stormed the homelands of Iraq’s Yazidi minority, killing hundreds of men and enslaving thousands of women. The scenes of desperate Yazidi families crowding on the top of Sinjar mountain without food or water spurred Kurdish fighters into action, an emergency airlift and the start of the U.S. airstrike campaign against the Islamic State Sunni extremists. VOA's Sharon Benh reports from northern Iraq.
Video

Video Iraqi Yazidis Fear Death of Their Community

A year ago on August 3, Islamic State militants stormed the homelands of Iraq’s Yazidi minority, killing hundreds of men and enslaving thousands of women. The scenes of desperate Yazidi families crowding on the top of Sinjar mountain without food or water spurred Kurdish fighters into action, an emergency airlift and the start of the U.S. airstrike campaign against the Islamic State Sunni extremists. VOA's Sharon Benh reports from northern Iraq.
Video

Video Bangkok Warned It Soon Could Be Submerged

Italy's Venice and America's New Orleans are not the only cities gradually submerging. The nearly ten million residents of the Bangkok urban area now must confront warnings the city could become uninhabitable in a few decades. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from the Thai capital.
Video

Video Inclusive Gym Gets People With Disabilities in Fitness Spirit

Individuals with special needs are 58 percent more likely to be obese than the general population. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, they also have an increased likelihood of anxiety, depression and social isolation. But a sports club outside Washington wants to make a difference in these people's lives. With Carol Pearson narrating, VOA's June Soh reports.
Video

Video Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missions

Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Special Olympics Show Competitors' Skill, Determination

Special Olympics competitions will wrap up Saturday in Los Angeles, and the closing ceremony for athletes with intellectual disabilities will be held Sunday night. In a week of competition, athletes have shown what they can do through skill and determination. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Civil Rights Leaders Struggled to Achieve Voting Rights Act

Fifty years ago, lawmakers approved, and U.S. President Lyndon Johnson signed, the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The measure outlawed racial discrimination in voting, giving millions of blacks in many parts of the southern United States federal enforcement of the right to vote. Correspondent Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights leaders who were on the front lines in the struggle for voting rights.
Video

Video Shooter’s Grill: Serving Food with a Touch of the Second Amendment

Shooter's Grill, a restaurant in Rifle, Colorado, attracts visitors from all over the world as well as local patrons. The reason? Waitresses openly carry loaded firearms as they serve food, and customers are welcome to carry them, too. VOA's Enming Liu and Lin Yang paid a visit to Shooter's Grill, and heard different opinions about this unique establishment.
Video

Video Despite Controversy, Business Owner Continues Sale of Confederate Flags

At Cooter’s, a store in rural Sperryville, Virginia, about 120 kilometers west of Washington, D.C., Confederate flags are flying off the shelves. The red, white and blue battle flag, with 13 white stars representing the Confederate states, was carried by southern forces during the U.S. Civil War in the 1860s. The South had seceded from the Union over several key issues of disagreement, including slavery. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder Reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

VOA Blogs