President Barack Obama is set to use the Bibles of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and Abraham Lincoln for his second swearing in January 21, no doubt symbolizing his pride as the nation's first Black president.
The symbolic move also aligns his principles with the principles of the two most transformational leaders in American history as it relates to African-American people. Despite the noble symbolism, the country is abuzz about exactly what President Obama will do as African-Americans continue to suffer disparately.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s actual birthday was celebrated on January 15 and will be observed on the national holiday on Monday, January 21, which is also Inauguration Day. As more than a million people are expected to attend inaugural celebrations in D.C. and millions more will watch around the world, neither the President nor leading Democrats have publicly mentioned his most faithful constituents, whose votes for him surpassed 95 percent in both elections.
Marc Morial, who convened a summit of African-American leaders in November and released an African-American agenda, has not spoken publicly about the agenda since then. Neither has Dr. Ron Daniels, president of the Institute of the Black World - 21st Century, who convened the State of the Black World Conference in November to discuss the state of the African-American community going into Obama's second term.
Meanwhile, President Obama's cabinet picks are appearing to lack diversity.
So far, the President has confirmed appointment of four of 15 new cabinet members for the next four years. None are African-American.
Congressional Black Caucus Chairwoman Marcia Fudge (D-Ohio), who replaced Congressman Emanuel Cleaver at the end of his chairmanship early this month, appears to be a lone voice as she has written a letter to the president actually recommending CBC members for the cabinet.
"As you consider candidates for your cabinet, it is with great privilege that I recommend Congressman Melvin Watt of North Carolina for the position of Secretary of Commerce and Congresswoman Barbara Lee of California for the position of Secretary of Labor," Fudge wrote in a January 10 letter. "Congressman Watt and Congresswoman Lee are exceptionally well-qualified, proven candidates. It is without reservation that I urge you to consider strongly this recommendation. I am available at your convenience should you desire further information."
Earlier this month Obama announced his nomination of former Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.) as secretary of Defense; White House Chief of Staff Jack Lew as Treasury secretary; Deputy National Security Advisor for Homeland Security John Brennan as director of the Central Intelligence Agency; and Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) as secretary of state, which is third in line to the presidency.
Eric Holder will remain attorney general and Kathleen Sebelius will remain secretary of Health and Human Services. Other cabinet secretaries could be replaced.
Cabinet appointments are just one way a president can demonstrate diversity. The other way is influencing or establishing public policies that disparately affect various minority groups. President Obama has done so in the cases of women; GLBTs (gays, lesbians, bi-sexuals and transgendered Americans); Latinos and veterans.
Dr. King said at the August 28, 1963 March on Washington that his dream was that his "four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character." While no one questions the president's principles in that regard, many hope his using the King Bible stacked on top of the Lincoln Bible for the swearing in might mean double sensitivity to activity on behalf of African-Americans.
The official swearing in on the January 20 date required by the Constitution, will take place in a private ceremony on Sunday. On that day, Obama will use the family Bible of First Lady Michelle Obama.
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Source: New America Media | Hazel Trice Edney