Barack Obama Reflected On How MLK Jr. Day Should Renew Our Faith In America


Plenty of social activists and political figures have taken to social media to honor civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. this year, but Barack Obama's 2021 Martin Luther King Jr. Day tweet is particularly meaningful. On Jan. 18, the former POTUS shared a photo of himself standing in front of the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial in West Potomac Park along with a powerful message.

"If anyone had a right to question whether our democracy was worth redeeming, it was Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.," Obama wrote. "Because in the face of billy clubs and lynchings, poll taxes and literacy tests, he never gave in to violence, never waved a traitorous flag or gave up on our country." In a second tweet, he added, "On #MLKDay, we celebrate his life but we're also called to live out his values through service of our own." Obama then provided a link to several National Day of Service events, many of which can be joined virtually.

Obama posted the same photo of himself in front of the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial on Instagram, where he expounded upon his MLK Day tweet, noting the many ways in which Dr. King fought for democracy "despite all of the injustices and indignities it brought upon him."

"The seeds of his courage, his discipline, his vision, and the resilience of all who joined with him took years to bear fruit," Obama continued. "But they gave us the Civil Rights Act. The Voting Rights Act. And an American tradition of nonviolent resistance that has rung through the generations, as we saw this summer when Americans of all races echoed his example in standing up to declare that Black Lives Matter — no more but also no less."

Obama concluded his message by pointing out that — even though racial injustice in America has been made more apparent than ever recently — Dr. King never stopped believing in the power of democracy. "We're in the middle of a tough chapter for our country, but #MLKDay should serve as a reminder that we have been through tough times before — and emerged from them stronger," Obama wrote. "But only because we never stopped believing in our democracy. Only because we never stopped working to perfect it. And only because, even in the face of intimidation, discrimination, and unimaginable suffering, we never stopped dreaming of a better day — and never stopped doing the long, hard, essential work of ushering it in."

Thank you, as always, for your wisdom and eloquence, Obama.