At the opening of Dr. King’s monument, there was a direct message from Dr. King to President Obama. The Martin Luther King monument opened on Monday, August 22 and drew diverse crowds. Just as important as the crowds and statute of Dr. King were the words inscribed on the walls surrounding the monument. The prophetic words of Dr. King to President Obama are found in this wall panel which states:
“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”
Dr. King faced challenging times during the civil rights era and fight for equality for African Americans. President Obama, in his first 3 years, has also experienced challenging and controversial times including racism by his fellow Americans, obstructionism by GOP lawmakers, and criticism by his strongest allies, progressives and African Americans. Americans and particularly African Americans face high unemployment and foreclosure rates and economic uncertainty and upheaval. At times, if the truth be told, President Obama has looked frustrated over the tackling of these issues. And quite frankly, who wouldn’t be frustrated? I’m sure Dr. King also experienced times of frustration. Yet, he never looked weary nor gave up the fight. And fight is what Americans, and particularly African Americans, want President Obama to do.
Congressman Elijah Cummings (D. MD) appeared on CNN’s State of the Union with Candy Crowley on Sunday and expressed some views of the African American community concerning President Obama. Rep. Cummings, in speaking about his district in Baltimore with 40% Black male unemployment, shared that African Americans want the President to stand up to the Republicans and don’t back down. They want him to get out there and fight.
And it is time for President Obama to put on the gloves and fight. Imagine if Dr. King had back down from the fights of the civil rights era. Would African Americans have made significant strides in civil and equal rights?
And no one expects or should expect President Obama to be the second coming of Martin Luther King. But, it is time that he put on the gloves and fights for all the things he campaigned on. The words of Rep. John Lewis (D. GA), also a civil rights fighter, “don’t give up, don’t give in and don’t give out” should resonate now with President Obama. Let’s hope when President Obama comes back from his Martha’s Vineyard vacation that he comes out fighting and doesn’t stop until he gets the job done that he set out to do. If he does, that will be his greatest legacy and ultimate measure of his character.
Washington, DC based Debbie Hines is a lawyer and legal and political commentator. She has appeared frequently in the media, including the Michael Eric Dyson show, XM Sirius radio, CBS and NBC Washington, DC affiliates, among others. She also contributes to the Huffington Post.