News Release

Inauguration and Citizenship

“I don’t think Dr. King would endorse any of us. I think what he would call upon the American people to do is to hold us accountable, and this goes to the core differences, I think, in this campaign. I believe change does not happen from the top down. It happens from the bottom up. Dr. King understood that. It was those women who were willing to walk instead of ride the bus, union workers who are willing to take on violence and intimidation to get the right to organize. It was women who decided, ‘I’m as smart as my husband. I’d better get the right to vote.’ Them arguing, mobilizing, agitating, and ultimately forcing elected officials to be accountable, I think that’s the key. So that has been a hallmark of my career, transparency and accountability, getting the American people involved. That’s how we’re going to bring about change. That’s why I want to be president of the United States, to respect the power of the American people to bring about change.”
— Barack Obama, Jan. 21, 2008
Transcript
Video

ROBERT JENSEN
Professor of journalism at the University of Texas, Jensen wrote “A ‘Citizens’ Oath of Office’ for Inauguration Day 2009.”

His books include The Heart of Whiteness: Confronting Race, Racism and White Privilege.

JARED BALL
Professor of communication studies at Morgan State University, Ball said today: “We cannot divorce Obama’s election from the fact that it comes 40 years after not only the assassination of Dr. King but the attendant ‘assassination’ (repeated annually) of King’s image and, more importantly, the movement that produced King. Obama is the system’s response to that movement, the antithesis of that movement, not that movement’s successful culmination.” Ball is featured in a video about Martin Luther King Jr. and activism.

ANISE JENKINS
Jenkins is president of the Stand Up! for Democracy in D.C. Coalition (Free D.C.) which has helped put up posters around D.C. featuring the D.C. flag and the text “Yes We Can, D.C. Statehood Now.” Jenkins said today: “Obama told me during the campaign that he definitely supported D.C. statehood. This is long overdue; the people of D.C. are denied a host of basic rights that citizens of every state in the United States take for granted.”

KEVIN ALEXANDER GRAY
Gray is a civil rights organizer in South Carolina. He is author of Waiting for Lightning to Strike: The Fundamentals of Black Politics and just wrote the piece “From South Africa to Israel: Time for a New Divestment Campaign,” which states: “King was a politician of sorts, although not so much at the time of his assassination. We love King now, but at the end of his life he wasn’t so popular. Younger activists criticized him and called him names such as ‘Da Lord’ — mocking his once high place in civil rights politics. President Lyndon B. Johnson and a host of government officials, local and national, condemned him when he spoke out against the Vietnam War. King was not universally cheered when he marched, to his death, with the garbage workers in Memphis striking for fair wages and respect. Truth be told, he was jeered, even by some blacks. …

“This year we should honor King in an active sense. We should commit ourselves to organize against the American policy of violence and empire. The anti-war movement should apply pressure on Obama to withdraw from Iraq and Afghanistan. And, just as important, particularly amid the horror that has been visited on the people of Gaza: a broader peace movement must also build real economic and political pressure against Israel’s immoral and criminal acts against the Palestinians. This King Day should mark the beginning of an organized push for American divestment from Israel.”

For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167