In 2009, they missed each other by a day.
But today, thanks to a scheduling quirk, President Obama’s inauguration festivities and Martin Luther King Jr. Day overlapped and, in many places, intertwined.
Although Obama was sworn in for his second term at a discreet event at the White House Sunday, the inaugural pomp became part of the celebration of the national holiday honoring the slain civil rights leader.
People gathered this morning, for instance, at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, where King and his father once worked as preachers, for a service led by Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference.
King’s youngest daughter, Bernice, attended the event and addressed the crowd, the Associated Press reported, describing her father’s belief in fighting with Christian love, not guns, as “one of the bravest experiences of gun control that we've ever heard of in the history of our nation.”
After the commemorative service, people stuck around the sanctuary for an inauguration “watch party.”
The National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, Tenn., which is built on the site of the Lorraine Motel where King was assassinated in 1968, hosted a day-long event of crafts, performances and guest speakers. In a nod to King’s history of service, the museum offered free admission to people who donated blood and a discounted price for those who donated canned food.
By midday, more than 3,500 people had already turned out for the event, museum spokeswoman Connie Dyson said.
“It’s festive, warm and people are celebratory,” she said. “They’re really excited about two things: We’re still celebrating the legacy of Martin Luther King and the second inauguration of President Obama. The spirits are very high.”
Joyce Oliver, who attended the museum event Monday, told the Associated Press that the overlap with Obama’s second inauguration made the holiday especially meaningful: “This is the dream that Dr. King talked about in his speech. We see history in the making. This is the second term for a black president. This is something he spoke about, that all races come together as one.”
Around the country, people used the Twitter hashtag #MLKDay to encourage others to spend their day off volunteering or taking a trip to one of the country’s national parks, which waived their entrance fees today.
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