“We, the people, declare today that the most evident of truths – that all of us are created equal – is the star that guides us still; just as it guided our forebears through Seneca Falls, and Selma, and Stonewall; just as it guided all those men and women, sung and unsung, who left footprints along this great Mall, to hear a preacher say that we cannot walk alone; to hear a King proclaim that our individual freedom is inextricably bound to the freedom of every soul on Earth.”
– President Barack Obama, January 21, 2013
Fifty years after the historic March on Washington and thirty years after Martin Luther King, Jr. Day was signed into federal law, the nation witnessed the second inauguration of President Barack Obama. In the darkest hours of 1968, this day may have been almost impossible for many to imagine. But Dr. King’s fight for equality, peace and economic and social justice lives on. From President Obama’s Inaugural Address today:
It is now our generation’s task to carry on what those pioneers began. For our journey is not complete until our wives, our mothers, and daughters can earn a living equal to their efforts. Our journey is not complete until our gay brothers and sisters are treated like anyone else under the law – for if we are truly created equal, then surely the love we commit to one another must be equal as well. Our journey is not complete until no citizen is forced to wait for hours to exercise the right to vote. Our journey is not complete until we find a better way to welcome the striving, hopeful immigrants who still see America as a land of opportunity; until bright young students and engineers are enlisted in our workforce rather than expelled from our country. Our journey is not complete until all our children, from the streets of Detroit to the hills of Appalachia to the quiet lanes of Newtown, know that they are cared for, and cherished, and always safe from harm.
As part of that continuing journey, Congress designated the Martin Luther King Jr. Federal Holiday as a national day of service in 1994 — a day for all Americans to work together to move us closer to Dr. King’s vision of a “Beloved Community.” President Obama took this tribute to King’s legacy of service seriously during his first inauguration in 2009, challenging us all to live up to the ideal. Obama has continued to set the pace for service by participating himself again this year. In Pittsburgh, thousands have responded to the call. From the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:
While children colored pictures of the Statue of Liberty, bald eagles and helicopters, adults at tables in the basement of the Homewood AME Zion Church wrote letters to be placed in care packages for members of the U.S. military overseas.
It was one of the busiest sites of about 20 in the Pittsburgh area on Saturday when thousands of people volunteered hours on projects in recognition of the National Day of Service. It coincides annually with the birthday of Martin Luther King Jr. and, this year, the inauguration of President BarackObama on Monday.
Bill Peduto joined the action on Saturday:
Both Mayor Luke Ravenstahl and mayoral candidate and city Councilman Bill Peduto joined the crowd in Homewood to write letters for soldiers’ care packages.
“Dear Friend,” Mr. Peduto’s third letter began, “It’s a hockey day in Pittsburgh,” referring to the late start of the National Hockey League’s season following a lockout.
He said he hoped a soldier from Pittsburgh might be cheered by it. “I did this in 1991 when my brother served in the first Gulf War,” he said.
You too can continue the dream by making a pledge to take action in your community on a regular basis here.