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Obama to Address King's Legacy in Indiana

Updated 12: 23 p.m.
By Shailagh Murray and Alec MacGillis
Today is the 40th anniversary of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.'s assassination, and both Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton and John McCain will commemorate the day with appearances in Memphis. Clinton will speak at the Mason Temple, the headquarters of the Church of God and Christ, where King delivered his famous "I've Been to the Mountaintop" speech on April 3, 1968, a day before his death. McCain speaks to the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and will lay a wreath at the National Civil Rights Museum.

Sen. Barack Obama, however, couldn't make it to Memphis. Later today he is the keynote speaker at the North Dakota Democratic Party's state convention, a long-standing commitment, and he couldn't squeeze in a Memphis stop and still make the Grand Forks date. Instead, his campaign said Obama would talk about King's legacy during a town hall meeting in Fort Wayne, Ind., at noon.

Obama won the North Dakota caucus by a 2 to 1 margin Feb. 5 and has the support of both senators, Byron Dorgan and Kent Conrad, and the state's lone House member, Earl Pomeroy. But earlier this week, Clinton confirmed that she too would attend the North Dakota convention. Her speaking slot is later tonight -- leaving plenty of time for her to visit Memphis as well.

Asked, after touching down in Fort Wayne, if he was worried about how his absence would be perceived, Obama said no. "I spoke at Dr. King's church on his birthday ... and I obviously gave a very fulsome speech on the state of race relations just two weeks ago. I think it's important to spread the message that Dr. King's work is unfinished to places like Indiana and North Dakota."

By Web Politics Editor  |  April 4, 2008; 10:55 AM ET
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"Sen. Barack Obama, however, couldn't make it to Memphis. Later today he is the keynote speaker at the North Dakota Democratic Party's state convention, a long-standing commitment, and he couldn't squeeze in a Memphis stop and still make the Grand Forks date."

It seems odd that Sen Clinton was able to both be in Memphis for the MLK memorial and also speak at the ND Democratic Convention later that day, not long after Obama spoke.

Both candidates are using chartered or private planes to fly, so are not constrained by airline schedules.

Posted by: Cest_Moi | April 6, 2008 1:13 PM | Report abuse

Thank Goodness that Hoodlam Al-OsamaBarok Obama has finally, by all accounts reached his Peek. What goes up must come down, and down he will go taking all his trash backers with him, and they can all hit bottom. Lieing to the citizens of this country from a nobody can only go so far and no further. Richarson and Casey were hoodwinked. Too bad but there is time to make amends to Hillary!

Sorry,McBush, your a looser.!!!!!!!

Posted by: LOONYBIN2000 | April 4, 2008 5:18 PM | Report abuse

Let us not forget that, for whatever Rev. Wright may have said over the last 30 years, he has demonstrated his patriotism.,0,92000.story

Posted by: jkallen001 | April 4, 2008 11:53 AM
Thank you for your honest, brave, and truthful comments. I totally agree with you.

Posted by: pinepine | April 4, 2008 2:17 PM | Report abuse

And the Scab gets violently RIPPED off the healing Wound AGAIN!

BAD Holiday Folks!

Posted by: rat-the | April 4, 2008 1:45 PM | Report abuse

peterdc you are a disgrace to DC.

if he is racist why are their people of different races that attend his church? why would he marry a black woman to a white man after convincing her that to not marry him because of his race is totally wrong? keep blowing hot air and i will keep providing context to a person who is ASSOCIATED with Obama (NOT Obama himself). you keep supporting your lying HRC or your feeble and old McCain or your tree-hugger Nader or whatever you want. But i am not going to let ignorant people like you spread your filth on these message boards. you and your ilk lack empathy and, apparently, intellect.

Posted by: jkallen001 | April 4, 2008 12:42 PM | Report abuse

If Obama is unelectable as you claim, he will fade away.
So why do you bother ranting about his sins of omission and commision?
Just forget about him and he will fade away.
Of course, you have to be right that he is unelectable.

Posted by: rastignax | April 4, 2008 12:36 PM | Report abuse


Learn to politic.
You don't court demographics you already have in your pocket.

Hillary and McCain are torturing those poor people with the sound of their voices because there's no way they can win if they don't. It's kind of pointless since the whole reason they stopped laying around and coming out to vote, is because Obama campaigned to register new young and black voters.

Posted by: Queixada | April 4, 2008 12:36 PM | Report abuse

jkallen and queenskid- you are both embarrassments to Obama- I am sure he would suggest that you don't tell people you support him.

There is enough hate to go around without you spouting it or claiming that being a soldier makes you immune to being a racist.

There were plenty of racists and most likely still are in the military, as the military is a reflection of the nation and we have plenty of racists in the nation.

The fight for the Democratic nomination should be about the economy, foreign policy and who can win.

I will support either candidate if they are the nominee. Right now when I count the states that each one can win it is only Hillary Clinton that can win enough to get the Presidency.

But in the next 10 primaries if Barack Obama can make a real dent in the voters that Clinton is now getting; women, white males, seniors and Hispanics, then he will prove he can get those votes in November. If he can't then he would be in trouble.

I want a Democrat to appoint the next Supreme Court Justice. I want a Democrat to appoint other justices. I want a Democrat to handle health care and the economy and I want a Democrat to be in the White House and speak up for GLBT rights, "Choice", Universal Health care.

Both Clinton and Obama will do all those things. So what I want as the nominee is a Democrat that can win in November.

Posted by: peterdc | April 4, 2008 12:32 PM | Report abuse

Obama can't make it to Memphis today. Will this cost him black votes? It should. Hillary will be there. So will McCain.

Obama couldn't make to Tavis Smiley's major black event either. Will this cost him black votes? It should. Hillary was there.

Obama's choice to continually interject racism, sexism and classism into this campaign is at his own peril.

Obama is unelectable.

The Democrats cannot have a legimate nominee without counting the votes of Michigan and Florida. It's disgraceful the way Obama is trying to disenfranchise the voters in these states. The DEms cannot win in November without Mich & Florida.

On this day, what would MLK think about Obama disenfranchising voters?? I do recall that voting rights were very important to Martin Luther King. Blood was shed to achieve the right to vote for women and blacks. Let's not forget that.


Posted by: TAH1 | April 4, 2008 12:21 PM | Report abuse


I think, everyone is tired of the attempts of the Clintons to rewrite history or outright being lied to.

[ And on behalf of my state of NY, I apologize for us even letting her get to a senate spot. ]

Posted by: wolfi101 | April 4, 2008 12:17 PM | Report abuse

I thought I would share this e-mail I recieved today. As follows:

On this date, 40 years ago, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated in Memphis. It's a day when many of us will celebrate his legacy, the values he espoused, and his vision for a better America. Some will talk about the King who challenged America's unlawful war in Vietnam, who found common ground with Malcolm X, and who became more aggressive in his push for improving America. But the media will likely focus a great deal on politicians who give speeches where they try to align themselves with his legacy.

We wanted to make sure that today when Senator McCain speaks, you and your friends and family know who's talking.

McCain will bring his "Service to America" tour to Memphis on Friday, but many people don't know the service he touts includes voting against the federal holiday honoring Dr. King. In August 1983 he fought the holiday, voting to block a piece of bipartisan legislation honoring him that was supported by even conservative Republicans--including Dick Cheney--and signed into law by President Reagan.

McCain went on to resist recognizing a King holiday in his home state of Arizona. When Arizona's state legislature failed to pass a bill recognizing a holiday honoring Dr. King, the governor at the time, Bruce Babbit, created the holiday by executive order. Babbit's successor, Gov. Evan Mecham rescinded the order as his first act in office, doing away with the holiday. John McCain's response? He defended the governor, not Dr. King. (After undoing the holiday, the same governor went on to publicly support referring to Black people as "pickaninnies").

In 1990, seven years after his initial vote, McCain went along with establishing a King holiday. On the campaign trail in 2000, facing questions about his history on this issue, McCain declared he had "evolved."

Looking at the rest of McCain's public record, even recently, it's hard to see much evidence of an "evolution". In fact, McCain has consistently opposed a civil rights agenda:

He voted an amazing FOUR times against the Civil Rights Act of 1990--a bill designed to make it easier for employees to prove job discrimination and imposing harsher penalties on bosses who discriminated.
In 2004 he opposed affirmative action in college admissions--a key component of the 1964 Civil Rights Act that is among King's key legislative victories.
He has voted at least 8 times against raising the minimum wage.
And as recently as last month, he argued against federal intervention to help Americans, disproportionately Black Americans, who have faced foreclosure during the housing crisis.
If John McCain has evolved, he hasn't evolved much. Instead, we see a consistent and troubling pattern. From campaigning against Dr. King's holiday to undermining important civil rights laws, John McCain has not stood side by side with King's vision, he has stood in its way.

Today, we hope that everyone will take a moment to pause and remember Dr. King's legacy, recognizing his contributions of words, deeds and ultimately his life. And we hope that all can see past political posturing (regardless of who it comes from) and embrace the bold, challenging vision that King actually projected. We believe that in doing so, we honor both his legacy and his sacrifice.

-- James, Van, Gabriel, Clarissa, Mervyn, Andre, and the rest of the team
April 4th, 2008

For more info on McCain's record, read this factsheet:

Posted by: marthadavidson | April 4, 2008 12:05 PM | Report abuse

In 1961, a young African-American man, after hearing President John F. Kennedy's challenge to, "Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country," gave up his student deferment, left college in Virginia and voluntarily joined the Marines.
In 1963, this man, having completed his two years of service in the Marines, volunteered again to become a Navy corpsman. (They provide medical assistance to the Marines as well as to Navy personnel.) The man did so well in corpsman school that he was the valedictorian and became a cardiopulmonary technician. Not surprisingly, he was assigned to the Navy's premier medical facility, Bethesda Naval Hospital, as a member of the commander in chief's medical team, and helped care for President Lyndon B. Johnson after his 1966 surgery. For his service on the team, which he left in 1967, the White House awarded him three letters of commendation. What is even more remarkable is that this man entered the Marines and Navy not many years after the two branches began to become integrated. While this young man was serving six years on active duty, Vice President Dick Cheney, who was born the same year as the Marine/sailor, received five deferments, four for being an undergraduate and graduate student and one for being a prospective father. Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, both five years younger than the African-American youth, used their student deferments to stay in college until 1968. Both then avoided going on active duty through family connections. Who is the real patriot? The young man who interrupted his studies to serve his country for six years or our three political leaders who beat the system? Are the patriots the people who actually sacrifice something or those who merely talk about their love of the country? After leaving the service of his country, the young African-American finished his final year of college, entered the seminary, was ordained as a minister, and eventually became pastor of a large church in one of America's biggest cities. This man is Rev. Jeremiah Wright, the retiring pastor of Trinity United Church of Christ, who has been in the news for comments he made over the last three decades. Since these comments became public we have heard criticisms, condemnations, denouncements and rejections of his comments and him. We've seen on television, in a seemingly endless loop, sound bites of a select few of Rev. Wright's many sermons. Some of the Wright's comments are inexcusable and inappropriate and should be condemned, but in calling him "unpatriotic," let us not forget that this is a man who gave up six of the most productive years of his life to serve his country. How many of Wright's detractors, Rush Limbaugh and Bill O'Reilly to name but a few, volunteered for service, and did so under the often tumultuous circumstances of a newly integrated armed forces and a society in the midst of a civil rights struggle? Not many. While words do count, so do actions. Let us not forget that, for whatever Rev. Wright may have said over the last 30 years, he has demonstrated his patriotism.,0,92000.story

Posted by: jkallen001 | April 4, 2008 11:53 AM | Report abuse

I am listening to Obama's speech as I write. What a briliant speaker, he has the good sense and the authenticity to not try to sound like a Southern Black preacher, just because he is speaking to a largly African American group on MLK Day. (Unlike Hillary who does a horrible imitation of what she thinks a Black pastor sounds like.) Obama sounds like who he is, a brilliant Harvard educator lawyer with a wonderful voice and beautiful phrasing. I note he never fact he always includes...the entire audience-all races,amd ages, and both sexes listening to him everywhere-as well as the ones hearing him in person.

I will be so proud to have this man as President.

Posted by: amyzng | April 4, 2008 11:45 AM | Report abuse

I thought it was LBJ who fought the race war? That's what my Senator, the lying four letter expletive deleted from NY, told us.

Was she lying again?

Posted by: queenskid | April 4, 2008 11:19 AM | Report abuse

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