It is a four-day weekend in the U.S. capital city of Washington, with a
holiday honoring Martin Luther King, Jr., on Monday and Inauguration
Day on Tuesday.
The significance of the back-to-back holidays honoring the slain civil
rights leader and the swearing-in of the first African-American
president is not lost on President-elect Barack Obama.
The president-elect told CNN (in an interview broadcast Sunday) that
the inauguration would be an extraordinary personal moment, one which
he hopes children will take for granted, even as it stuns older
Mr. Obama noted that he choked up (became emotional) while
preparing for the Democratic National Convention last August, which
coincided with the 45th anniversary of the Reverend King's "I Have a
Dream" speech on racial equality.
The president-elect will take the oath of office on the steps of the
Capitol building, which was built by slaves centuries ago. The majestic
landmark overlooks the National Mall, the expansive lawn at the heart
of Washington where African slaves were once bought and sold.
The Reverend King's influence was also apparent today (Sunday) when the Obama family attended services at a Baptist church in Washington.
At the end of a reading, a young boy quoted a song that famously served
as the conclusion of Reverend King's "I Have a Dream Speech," -- "Free
at last, free at last, thank God Almighty, we are free at last."
Martin Luther King, Jr. led non-violent protests in the 1950s and 1960s
against racial segregation and discrimination in the southern United
States. Blacks were subject to intimidation and violence -- sometimes
deadly -- at the hands of whites.
The Reverend King, who had a doctorate in religion, was a preacher in
Montgomery, Alabama. He was assassinated April 4th, 1968, in Memphis,
Tennessee, where he had traveled to support striking garbage collectors.