Here’s what happened.
Of course, Martin Luther King Jr. and Barack Hussein Obama never actually met. But because of an event scheduling adjustment, they will connect to history and each other. Obama, the USA’s first African-American president, will begin his second term on January 21, 2013-- Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
Here’s why it matters.
In 1983, President Ronald Reagan signed the law that established MLK Day. The USA observes a federal holiday on the third Monday of each January to recognize Dr. King’s birthday, which is January 15. Congress passed the law with a veto-proof majority. MLK Day was first observed on January 20, 1986.
Since 1937, January 20 has been the date for U.S. presidents to take the oath of office, in accordance with the Constitution’s 20th Amendment. Whenever that date falls on a Sunday, the inauguration takes place on the following day.
Only once before have the dates of Inauguration Day and MLK Day coincided. During his second inaugural speech on January 20, 1997, William Jefferson “Bill” Clinton, facetiously regarded as the USA’s “first black president,” saluted Dr. King’s contributions as an activist for civil and human rights.
Here’s an interesting fact!
MLK Day was not unanimously embraced. Arizona officials and voters refused to observe it until it cost them a chance to host The Super Bowl. On January 20, 2013 the Atlanta Falcons played in the National Football Conference (NFC) Championship Game for the right to play in Super Bowl XLVII. King was an Atlanta native.