On Jan. 21, 1929, Martin Luther King, Jr. was born. On Jan. 21, 2013, President Barack Obama was ceremonially sworn in as President of the United States for a second term. Obama used Dr. King’s personal Bible as his recited the oath of office.
On Apr. 4, 1968, the day Dr. King was assassinated, the idea that an African-American man could be President seemed inconceivable, if not completely impossible. But with the election of Barack Obama, a barrier had been broken that has oppressed all minorities in the United States.
Barack Obama won 55 percent of the female vote, over 70 percent of the Hispanic and Asian vote, and over 90 percent of the black vote. It seems as though there’s a new coalition of voters who have been empowered by Obama’s presidency and policies.
Barack Obama has advocated a path to citizenship for employed immigrants in the United States, which won support from the Latino community. He has also advocated the DREAM Act, which would have created a path of immigrants who excel in school or who are interested in joining the military.
He has continually affirmed his support for women’s health issues. He supports healthcare options for women, which includes breast cancer screenings provided by employers. He is also pro-choice, which he reaffirmed in his inauguration speech to rapturous applause.
President Obama has also made landmark decisions concerning the LGBT community. He was influential in the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” which allowed gay soldiers to serve openly. He instructed the Department of Justice to stop defending the Defense of Marriage Act in the courts. The Defense of Marriage Act prevents the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriage.
But almost as important as his policies is the image he presents to young Americans. A poor black boy in Chicago can now dream of becoming the leader of the free world because someone else has already set the precedent. A gay kid in a small, conservative town now knows that he has an ally in the White House.
Barack Obama’s Presidency represents hope and change. Finally, there is hope that all men will finally be equal in America.