Where King Preached, Obama's the Word

Washington: National Cathedral

Here, King delivered his last Sunday sermon. He made the most of it.

Speaking from an ornate high pulpit made of white stone from Canterbury Cathedral in England, King reiterated his opposition to the Vietnam War ("one of the most unjust wars that has ever been fought in the history of the world") and his determination to lead the Poor People's March on Washington (which took place after King's death).

On Sunday, Lloyd, the cathedral's dean, described King as "the figure looming in the midst of what's happening" this week in Washington. King Day and Inauguration Day "seem inextricably intertwined," he said.

He told his congregation — predominantly white, like the one King addressed 41 years ago — that just as Franklin Roosevelt promised a New Deal and John Kennedy a New Frontier, Obama seemed to offer "a new community." That, he said, may explain why, at such a bleak economic time, "we Americans are experiencing a strange sense of hope."

In 1968, five days before his death, King concluded his sermon at the cathedral with words that have been echoed recently by Obama: "We have difficult days ahead in the struggle for justice and peace, but I will not yield to a politic of despair. I'm going to maintain hope as we come to Washington."

Hampson reported from Washington; Copeland from Atlanta; Jones from New York; Welch from Los Angeles.

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