This morning, President Obama joined host Tom Joyner on his daily morning radio show to talk about a range of issues including jobs, the economy, and the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial. He spoke eloquently about the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King and what the African American community can do to uphold that legacy. Below is an excerpt of the President's interview.
Q: Okay. Let's talk about, first of all, the MLK dedication. They're going to reschedule it. You don't have a time or date yet?
THE PRESIDENT: We don't have a date yet. But those who've had a chance to see the monument, it is a moving and powerful thing. When you think about this is a man who didn’t have a title, didn’t have a rank in the military, but just led a nation in rediscovering its ideals and its values, and to have him staring out across the water towards the Jefferson monument is a reminder of what's possible in this country. So I know those who've already seen it have just been moved to tears by its presence and it's going to be an extraordinary legacy for this country for many years to come. But obviously what I hope it reminds us of is how much more work we still have to do. Dr. King helped to catalyze, along with that entire generation of heroes, the progress that allowed me to be sitting in this Oval Office right now. But I think it's always important to remember that when Dr. King gave the "I have a dream" speech, that was a march for jobs and justice, not just justice. And in the last part of his life, when he went down to Memphis, that was all about sanitation workers saying, I am a man, and looking for economic justice and dealing with poverty. And so it's not enough for us to just remember the sanitized versions of what Dr. King stood for; he made a real call for us to dig deep and be thinking about our fellow citizens and people around the world who are in desperate need and figuring out how we can help them.
Q: Was that part of your dedication speech that you were going to give on Sunday?
Q: Did we get a preview of it?
THE PRESIDENT: That was a little impromptu, but I think those themes are ones that I think about every single day. We've got -- somebody mentioned -- I think there was an article that we've got on loan that famous Norman Rockwell painting, right outside the Oval Office, of Ruby Bridges walking to school. And we pass that every single day. She was a little six-year-old girl surrounded by marshals, going into that schoolhouse all by herself. And inside my office I’ve got -- a friend of mine framed the original program from the March on Washington.
And so they’re reminders, as we go through the day and we’re working hard here to make sure that we’re putting people back to work and getting the economy going again, that we stand on the shoulders of a lot of people who made a lot of sacrifices. And it’s important for us to make sure that we’re following through on those commitments, even if it’s slow and frustrating sometimes.