When President Obama was publicly sworn into office for the second time on Jan. 21 using Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Bible, many Black Americans were thrilled. Certainly, the King family was—they offered it to the president and attended the event at the Capitol to witness its use.
However, all African Americans did not share that sentiment, most notably former Princeton professor Cornel West and media personality Tavis Smiley, who have, in the past five years, lobbed a barrage of scathing criticism at the president.
In separate statements, the two decried Obama’s use of the Bible given what they see as his spotty record on poverty, U.S. militarism and race relations—issues against which Dr. King fought.
“You don’t use his (King’s) prophetic fire for a moment of presidential pageantry without understanding the challenge he represents to all of those in power regardless of what color they are,” said West during a panel discussion on poverty convened by Smiley at George Washington University on Jan. 17. “The righteous indignation of a Martin Luther King Jr. becomes a moment of political calculation. And that makes my blood boil.” (The AFRO)