Dr. Martin Luther King inspired President Obama into politics
by Reading on Walden Bookstore, Mon Jan 18, 2010 at 04:50:10 PM EST
Dr. Martin Luther King was an inspiration to many people in his life, including to me. But, I would argue, that Dr. King was speaking directly to President Barack Obama when he gave his "I Had A Dream" speech.
As I mention in my soon-to-be released book, Mr. and Mrs. Grassroots: How Barack Obama, Two Bookstore Owners, and 300 Volunteers Did It, President Obama made key announcements on the occasion of Dr. King's birthday. The first one was the day that Obama announced his candidacy for United States Senate. That was on January 21, 2003, and very significant that day, was that Barack Obama was surrounded by a coalition of African-American and white political leaders from all parts of the state of Illinois.
In attendance that day were such political luminaries as Illinois State Senate President Emil Jones from Chicago's Roseland community, Illinois State Senator Denny Jacobs from East Moline, Illinois State Senator Terry Link from the Waukegan area, Alderman Toni Preckwinkle from Chicago's 5th Ward and the Hyde Park community and dozens of others. State Senator Terry Link is a candidate for Lieutenant Governor of Illinois and Alderman Toni Preckwinkle is a candidate for Cook County Board President. By no small coincidence, both candidates are front-runners in their respective races.
One year later, on January 17, 2004, Obama opened two campaign offices in the African-American community: one on Chicago's south side and one on Chicago west side. My wife Michelle and I attended the opening ceremony at the south side office and what we saw that day was quite stunning. The campaign had come a long way from that day of the announcement in 2003, when Obama was poling at less than 5% and he was known as "Who?" On this January 17th date in 2004, several hundred "grassroots supporters" were in attendance. What made made it stunning and hopeful and in the spirit of Dr. Martin Luther King was the room was filled with white, African-American, Hispanic, Asian-Americans. In other words, what Dr. King had had prophesied about on the "I Had a Dream" speech. That people of all races and creeds would gather together.
A couple of months later on March 16, 2004, Obama won the Illinois Democratic primary against impossible odds. Even more significant, his support came from everywhere in the state of Illinois. Yes, he received overwhelming support from the African-American community, but Obama was strong in many other areas. Without that support, he would still be serving as an outstanding state senator in the Illinois legislature.
And in the spirit of Dr. Martin Luther King, I am grateful that Barack Obama is our President. If only Dr. King could be with us today. Come to think of it, he is. Chicago City Hall Examiner and The Chicago Grassroots Political Examiner.
John is the author of an upcoming book, Mr. and Mrs. Grassroots: How Barack Obama, two Bookstore Owners, and 300 Volunteers did it.
Read the Chicago City Hall Examiner's and the Chicago Grassroots Political Examiner's recent pieces on many issues: First booksigning for the Obama book that celebrates books and bookselling. Robert Gibbs lashes out at Limbaugh. Mayor Richard M. Daley is vulnerable. Obama book is a celebration of books and bookselling. Pamela Cotten is endorsed for Subcircuit judge of Cook County.