Natalie Gewargis reports:
Tonight, joined by the first lady, daughters Sasha, Malia and their grandmother, President Obama attended a concert celebrating the legacy of Martin Luther King. While addressing the audience at Washington’s Kennedy Center, Obama remarked on how fitting it was to commemorate the activist and clergyman through song, given music's important role in the civil rights movement.
In his comments, the president acknowledged the current challenges facing the American people and the world. He touched on America’s wars abroad, and the desperate needs of the Haitian people in the wake of last week’s devastating earthquake. Calling King an “American giant,” Obama pointed out King’s ability to inspire people to overcome in times of difficulty, despite the bitterness of the past and the uncertainty of the future. He asked that King's courage and dream be remembered, and called for continued perseverance in realizing King's goals in the 21st century.
The president also lauded the recipient of Georgetown University’s “Legacy of a Dream” award, retired Congolese-American NBA player Dikembe Mutombo. Mutombo was honored for his commitment to his country and people. In his remarks, Obama commented that the 18-year NBA veteran who played college ball at Georgetown was fighting problems in Africa with the “same tenacity he used to block shots in the NBA.” Later in the evening, the first family enjoyed performances by singer-songwriter India Arie, and the Let Freedom Ring Celebration Choir.
On Friday, the president issued a proclamation declaring King’s birthday a federal holiday, and encouraging Americans to spend the day performing acts of charity and service. The first family spent part of Monday morning serving coffee and lunch to patrons of a faith-based organization for the homeless in Washington.
– Natalie Gewargis