“I know we will overcome,” Obama declared, standing near the 30-foot granite monument of King. “I know this because of the man towering over us.”
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During the final moments of his speech, which touched on many of the same principals that Dr. King spoke of over 40 years ago, it appeared that the President began to fight back tears. “With our eyes on the horizon and our faith squarely placed in one another, let us keep striving, let us keep struggling,” he proclaimed.
Just as President Obama was moved by this historic moment, so were the tens of thousands of people who gathered in our nation’s capital for the ceremony. King’s monument is the first statue dedicated to a Black man on the National Mall.
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Moments before President Obama addressed the crowd, King’s daughter Rev. Bernice King accompanied the Obama family as they stood alongside the monument for a moment of silence. President Obama then placed a copy of his inaugural speech in a time capsule at the monument site.
Other notable attendees who rejoiced in King’s legacy today included his son Martin Luther King, III, Shirley Murdock, Rev. Al Sharpton, and Cicely Tyson. Rev. Jesse Jackson, who was with Dr. King at the time of his assassination, also delivered a brief speech during the ceremony. The Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin, sang a moving rendition of one of King’s favorite gospel songs “Take my Hand, Precious Lord.”