A crowd at the King Center in Atlanta watched as President Obama took the oath of office for his second term. Two of them were men who participated in the Memphis sanitation workers strike in 1968. They couldn’t help but link Martin Luther King Junior’s work to the inaugural festivities. The president swore his presidential oath on a bible owned by Dr. King as well as a bible of Abraham Lincoln.
King was assassinated in Memphis in 1968. He was visiting the city to support striking sanitation workers.
Alvin Turner was one of those workers. He says President Obama’s election and re-election shows that King’s dream is alive and well.
“When Dr. King said ‘I went to the mountain top and I looked over and I saw the promised land.’ This is what he’d seen. He saw that a black man would be in the White House.”he says.
Baxter Leach, now 73, was another one of those workers. He said in 2011 President Obama honored the sanitation workers for their struggle .
“Cause he said if it wasn’t for us, he wouldn’t have been where we are at. He brought us to the White House to shake hands with him, to take pictures with him. We were proud of that.” he says.
But Turner, now 77, says the fight for civil rights isn’t over. He says more needs to be done to help workers make a living wage and ensure workers’ dignity.
“They is trying to take away a lot of the things that we fought for. They are taking away a lot of the things that Dr. King came to Memphis and died for.” Turner says.
Both men believe President Obama will do more to advance civil rights in his second term.
Walter Fletcher was an usher at the Martin Luther King Junior celebration. The resident of Dallas, Georgia says he’s thrilled President Obama won a second term in office. And he praised the president’s new gun control efforts.
“It’s not perfect, but it is something. It’s better than doing nothing. So we get started in a direction and maybe we can get a snowball rolling. I don’t think we’ll ever get guns out of America, but at least we need some control so people don’t get completely crazy with them.”Fletcher says.
Fletcher says it was difficult for Obama to get much done in his first term in office due to the partisan animosity in Washington. He’s optimistic lawmakers will be more cooperative this time around.