The significance of Obama’s bibles

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The significance of Obama’s bibles

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Obama chooses King, Lincoln bibles for inauguration

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Charles Bowles/ Contributor
The White House seen from far away on inaguration day

On Monday, Jan. 21, 2013, President Barack Obama was sworn in at the 57th presidential inauguration of the United States, notably using not one, but two Bibles.

In making his oath, Obama used President Abraham Lincoln’s and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Bibles. Lincoln’s Bible, provided by the Library of Congress, was the same Lincoln used on the day he was sworn into office. Obama is the first president to have used Lincoln’s Bible after Lincoln. King’s Bible is recognized as that which he used to preach with.

“The fact that the President is using daddy’s bible is heartwarming for me,” Bernice King, daughter of King, said in an interview with CNN.

According to the Constitution, each inauguration ceremony should be held on Jan. 20. As this year’s date fell on a Sunday, Obama took only private oath that day, making a public oath on Monday. The event coincided with Martin Luther King Jr. Day, which is celebrated on the third Monday of every January.

“We know our father would be deeply moved to see President Obama take the oath of office using his Bible,” said King’s children, in a statement released by the Presidential Inauguration Committee.

While Presidents Eisenhower, Nixon and Truman also used two Bibles, Obama’s use of these particular Bibles was significant.

Using these two Bibles was symbolic for President Obama, as the action highlights two great figures in history, both of whom worked toward equality. Through his actions on Monday, Obama strove to honor Lincoln and King.

Abraham Lincoln delivered the Emancipation Proclamation 150 years ago. Martin Luther King Jr. had a central role in the Civil Rights Movement that led to equal rights for all Americans. The inauguration even occurred at the Lincoln Memorial, the same place Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his renowned “I have a Dream” speech. Obama wanted the American public to remember and honor this progression toward equality.

Another significant aspect of the inauguration was that a woman led the invocation at Obama’s inauguration. Myrlie Evers-WIlliams is now the first woman to have said the prayer that comes before the oath of office. Evers-Williams is the widow of Medgar Evers, a prominent figure in the Civil Rights movement.

With the first lady Michelle Obama holding the two Bibles, Obama placed his left hand on the two-tiered stack and reiterated the oath. Prompted by Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts, Obama renewed his second term as president of the United States.

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Charles Bowles/ Contributor
A brigade marches through the streets of Washington, D.C.

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Charles Bowles/ Contributor
A brigade marches through the streets of Washington, D.C.