US President Barack Obama is putting a symbolic twist on a time-honoured tradition, taking the oath of office for his second term with his hand placed not on a single Bible, but two — one owned by Martin Luther King Jr and one by Abraham Lincoln.
The inclusion of King’s Bible is particularly significant since the inauguration comes on January 21, the federal holiday in honour of the civil rights leader, who delivered his “I Have a Dream” speech 50 years ago at the Lincoln Memorial.
Obama will be facing the memorial as he takes the oath. King’s Bible, which his children say he used early in his career as a preacher, has never been part of a presidential inauguration.
The selection of the pair of Bibles is richly symbolic of the struggle for equality in America, beginning with Lincoln’s emancipation of the slaves through King’s civil rights movement and ultimately to Obama becoming the nation’s first black president.
“We know our father would be deeply moved to see President Obama take the Oath of Office using his bible,” King’s children said Thursday in the release sent out by the PIC.
Inaugural planners say Obama plans to place his left hand on the stacked Bibles held by First Lady Michelle Obama as he raises his right hand to repeat the oath administered by Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts.
Obama used the Lincoln Bible while taking the oath four years ago — the first time it had been used since the 16th president’s inauguration in 1861.
Obama’s inaugural committee says that the president plans to use the first lady’s family’s Bible for a private swearing-in at the White House on Sunday, January 20.
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