President Barack Obama’s second term officially began yesterday when he took the oath of office in a private ceremony surrounded by his family, using a Bible given to First Lady Michelle Obama’s grandmother by her father. Today, as he is publicly sworn in on the day the nation also celebrates the life of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., the president will place his hand on a Bible that belonged to Dr. King, which itself will be stacked atop President Lincoln’s inaugural Bible.
The symbolism of this act goes beyond the obvious. For all three leaders, public education has been one of the leading civil rights issues of their time.