‘You Don’t Play With Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’: Dr. Cornel West Upset Over Pres. Obama’s Use Of MLK’s Bible

January 23, 2013  |  

It’s no secret that Dr. Cornel West doesn’t always see eye-to-eye with President Barack Obama, nor does he have any qualms about expressing his indifference. During a recent panel discussion appearing on C-SPAN, which explored poverty in the United States, Dr. West touched on his disapproval of President Obama being sworn in for his second term using the late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Bible. It appears that West feels that the President’s use of the Bible served as a moment of “political calculation”.

“When I got the news that my dear brother, Barack Obama, President Obama, was going to put his hand on Martin Luther King Jr.’s Bible, I got upset. I got upset because you don’t play with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and you don’t play with his people. By ‘his people’ I mean people of good conscience, fundamentally committed to peace, and truth, and justice; and especially the Black tradition that produced it.”


“All of the blood, sweat and tears that went into producing a Martin Luther King Jr. generated a brother of such high decency and dignity that you don’t use his prophetic fire for a moment of presidential pageantry without understanding the challenge he represents to all of those in power, no matter what color they are.”

Dr. West went on to express that the symbolic moment was “personal” for him because it tapped into the tradition that he came out of. He also urged his audience to question what Dr. King would think of the state that our society is in and how our government is currently being run under the advisement of President Obama, which he believes is in opposition of MLK’s principles and beliefs. He closed his statement by expressing that he does not hate Obama, he simply loves “the tradition that produced Martin Luther King Jr.” and refuses to “allow it in any way to be sanitized, deodorized and sterilized.”

Check out footage of Dr. West’s full statement on the following page. Do you agree or disagree with his stance? 

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