Lewis: King Would Say ‘Hallelujah’ to Obama Nomination

Posted August 28, 2008 at 1:48pm

Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.), the only living speaker from Martin Luther King Jr.’s 1963 March on Washington, said this morning the legendary civil rights leader would have had a one-word reaction to Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) becoming the first black presidential nominee: “Hallelujah!” Lewis spoke Thursday morning at a gathering of civil rights leaders, activists, and celebrities in Denver to celebrate the 45th anniversary of King’s “I Have a Dream” speech. The crowd of about 300 also rallied in support of Democratic presidential nominee Obama, who will give his acceptance speech as the first minority candidate of a major party tonight. Dawn Givens, a member of the Denver Community Choir who performed at the event, said the significance of the occasion was a little overwhelming. “I’m proud to be a part of history,” Givens said. “This event is about party unity, and unity period. All Americans together have to move past bitterness and work together as a nation.” Givens echoed the message of the speakers, including the Rev. Al Sharpton, whose speech altered Obama’s campaign slogan from “Yes We Can” to “Now We Must.” “This is not about our division, but about our commonality,” Sharpton said. “This is a victory for all Americans.” King’s children, Martin Luther King III and Bernice King, both spoke to cheers and standing ovations. “We’re here today to celebrate the journey, and not to stop here,” King III said. “The dreams of Martin Luther King Jr. have not been achieved yet — only when there is justice for all Americans will we have achieved his dreams.”