Hoosiers celebrate combined MLK day, inauguration

2 events mark special day for black community

INDIANAPOLIS - Hoosiers gathered to enjoy the festivities of a special day -- the second inauguration of President Barack Obama and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

The city's largest King Day celebration began with a march down Indiana Avenue from the Urban League to the Madame Walker Center.

There City-County Councilor Leroy Robinson said Americans must ask what comes next, because even after emancipation and the civil rights struggle, many barriers to equal rights persist.

"African-American students and students of color continue to be relegated to poorly resourced and increasingly segregated schools throughout America," Robinson said. "We have the world's largest prison population. Voter suppression laws in 30 states attempted to disenfranchise the poor, the elderly and people of color."

But the usual King speeches were cut short this year so the audience would be ready for the inauguration.

Person after person told RTV6 the juxtaposition of the two events produced a level of emotion that was almost too much to describe.

"I came up in the 60s, so I was on the tail end of a lot of the marches," one attendee told RTV6. "And to have him be inaugurated on Martin Luther King Day, I brought my son out to make sure we enjoy the festivities. It's just, it's overwhelming."

"It's very exciting," another said. "And it's very strong and empowering. I love that it inspires me to do a lot of great things."

"I believe it's a very significant moment in history. My two daughters, my son, my wife and I, it's something that you just can't put into words," another audience member at the Walker Center said.

While Obama's supporters said they are pleased with his first term, they have definite expectations for the second. 

"I would like to see the health care reform come to some kind of...I mean, I think that it's a shame when you can't afford to be well, if you need to go to the hospital, need to go to the doctor.  I think that I would like to see the unemployment rate get better."

The President's speech brought cheers and applause from the crowd.  And talk show host Amos Brown compared it favorably to King's oratory.

"And if we really look at what Dr. King stood for, he also challenged America to come to grips and face the challenges facing America during the Civil Rights Era," Brown said. "And I think the president gave that clarion call to arms in a very positive way today."

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