Monday, January 19, 2009

President-Elect Obama on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day: "Our separate dreams are one"

President-elect Obama joined Americans across the country today in honoring the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. by joining in one of the 11,000 public service planned for today. This morning he released an official statement honoring Dr. King:

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. 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.

Dr. Martin Luther King's was a life lived in loving service to others. As we honor that legacy, it's not a day just to pause and reflect - it's a day to act. Today, ordinary citizens will gather together all across the country to participate in the more than eleven thousand service projects they've created using And I ask the American people to turn today's efforts into an ongoing commitment to enriching the lives of others in their communities, their cities, and their country.

Tomorrow, we will come together as one people on the same mall where Dr. King's dream echoes still. As we do, we recognize that here in America, our destinies are inextricably linked. We resolve that as we walk, we must walk together. And as we go forward in the work of renewing the promise of this nation, let's remember King's lesson - that our separate dreams are really one.

Today President-elect Obama participated in the renovation of a "safe space" housing for homeless and "disconnected" teenagers at Sasha Bruce Youthwork (SBY). For more than 30 years, SBY has helped at-risk youth and their families in Washington, DC. CNN reported:

The shelter provides a variety of services -- including counseling, job training, and substance abuse prevention assistance -- for up to 15 teenagers at a time.

Roughly 30 teenagers are spending the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday volunteering at the shelter by helping to renovate a dorm room.

Obama rolled up his sleeves and pitched in during the visit, using a roller to help paint a couple of walls and a piece of furniture.

He also quoted King to the teenagers, noting that "everybody can be great [because] everybody can serve."

"Don't underestimate the power of people who join together to accomplish amazing things," Obama added. Given the crisis America is currently in, "we can't allow any idle hands. Everybody's got to pitch in."

You can find more information on today's service events at

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