US President Barack Obama draws parallels between Martin Luther King Jr's sense of justice and the demonstrations in New York against corporate greed
Drawing parallels between civil rights legend Martin Luther King Jr and his own leadership challenges, President Obama dedicated a memorial to King by saying King would have sympathised with activists demanding social justice from Wall Street.
Carving a new chapter in King's legacy: The Stone of Hope sculpture during the dedication of the Martin Luther King Jr Memorial.
"At this moment, when our politics appear so sharply polarised and faith in our institutions so greatly diminished, we need more than ever to take heed of Dr King's teachings," said Obama, who praised King's belief in the "creative tension of nonviolent protests ".
"If he were alive today, I believe he would remind us that the unemployed worker can rightly challenge the excesses of Wall Street without demonising all who work there," the president said. "Those with power and privilege will often decry any call for change as divisive. They'll say any challenge to the existing arrangements are unwise and destabilising. Dr King understood that peace without justice was no peace at all."
Obama and Michelle joined Vice President Joseph Biden, his wife Jill, and numerous civil rights figures for the dedication on the sun-splashed Mall.
US President Barack Obama, wife Michelle and Vice President Joseph Biden, and his wife Jill sing We Shall Overcome at the dedication. Pics/AFP
Noting that King's "I Have a Dream" speech on the Mall took place nearly 50 years ago, the president said the nation has made great strides since then in gaining economic and civil justice for all citizens.
"Look at the faces here around you, and you see an America that is more fair and more free and more just than the one that Dr King addressed that day," Obama said. "We are right to savour that slow and certain progress." The president's voice caught with emotion as he concluded his speech by praising King's vision of a more just and fair America.
"He had faith in us, and that is why he belongs on this Mall," Obama said.
"As tough as times may be, I know we will overcome. I know there are better days ahead. I know this because of the man towering over us."
King Memorial: From China, with love? Many Americans are up in arms over the new Martin Luther King Memorial as it has been built by a Chinese artist.
Did you know? The statue of King is the first monument to a non-president on the mall or surrounding park
30 ft The height of the memorial built by Chinese artist Lei Yixin. It was made of 159 pieces of pink Chinese granite