(Picture : http://www.nypl.org/sites/default/files/ep_curriculum_guide_sc.pdf )
Yesterday, was the federal holiday marking the birthday of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. It was also the day for the second inauguration of the 44th President of the United States, Barak Obama who used Dr. King's Bible and that of President Lincoln, in the ceremony. The beginning of 2013, also marks the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation by President Lincoln in 1863.
The symbolic importance of this fortuitous confluence should have us recall the continuity of struggle that former slaves and their allies, have carried out to make the foundational claim in the Declaration of Independence that "all men are created equal, ring true.
Dr. King tied together these historical streams when he said, "There is but one way to commemorate the Emancipation Proclamation. That is to make its declarations of freedom real; to reach back to the origins of our nation when our message of equality electrified an unfree world, and reaffirm democracy by deeds as bold and daring as the issuance of the Emancipation Proclamation." ( Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., at the New York Civil War Centennial Commission’s Emancipation Proclamation Observance, New York City, September 12, 1962 )
Echoing Dr. King's exhortation, President Obama said that "What makes us exceptional — what makes us American — is our allegiance to an idea, articulated in a declaration made more than two centuries ago: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness." Today we continue a never-ending journey, to bridge the meaning of those words with the realities of our time..."
The Emancipation Proclamation could be considered the first step to freedom which began that journey that we are still on today. The moral power embodied in the Declaration of Independence continues to inspire us on that journey 150 year later.