From King to Obama in 40 Years

“The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.”


-Martin Luther King, Jr.


On behalf of the National Urban League and its affiliates, I offer my heartfelt congratulations to Barack Obama and Joe Biden as they officially assume their roles as President and Vice President of the United States. For millions of Americans and freedom-loving people all over the world, the inauguration of President Barack Obama breathed new life into our nation’s oldest and highest values. Watching the ceremony at the U.S. Capitol with the Lincoln Memorial in the background, I was reminded of the 1963 March on Washington. Then as now, the nation was on the brink of dissolution and despair. And then, as now a visionary leader stepped forth with a message of hope onto the stage of history. In one of those rare acts of divine timing, President Obama was sworn-in one day after the nation celebrated what would have been the 80th birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. It is amazing to think that the moral arc of the universe has given us a prophet and a president in the span of 40 years.

With the inauguration of President Obama, we have moved closer to realizing Dr. King’s dream. The forces of inequality, injustice, and division are clearly on the run, but as long as those forces hold sway in any corner, our work is not yet done. In the time of legal segregation and denial of the right to vote, Dr. King’s extraordinary moral authority helped lead us to a better day. In these times of unprecedented domestic and foreign upheaval, we now have a President who possesses both the moral and political authority to get this country back on track.

But democracy has never been a solo act or spectator sport. If we are to regain our economic and moral standing in the world, all of us are going to have to get in the game. The National Urban League is already working with the new President and Congress to pass a major stimulus package designed to create new jobs and put our people back to work. We will continue to be a strong advocate for the urban communities we serve. We will give the new President our support when we think he’s right and we will not hesitate to tell him when we think he’s wrong.

With so many challenges facing this nation, within the next four years we could very well reach a tipping point that will determine what kind of America we leave to our children. Will it be an America that works only for the wealthy and connected or will it be an America where everyone who is willing to work and contribute has an equal chance to live out their dreams? In the words of President Obama, \”Starting today, we must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and begin again the work of remaking America .\”

Marc Morial is President and CEO of the National Urban League.