Martin Luther King Commemoration Focuses on Historic Inauguration
Web Editor - Published: January 21, 2009

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Professor Lipkin addresses the Law School

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Gathering: Ruby R. Vale Moot Courtroom

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Live coverage on CNN

“As far as I know, Professor Lipkin is the only faculty member who actually marched with Dr. King,” said Professor Robert Hayman in introducing Professor Robert Lipkin at the Delaware campus’s Martin Luther King Day Commemoration before deadpanning, “The rest of us aren’t actually old enough.”

The Widener Law community packed the Ruby R. Vale Moot Courtroom on Tuesday, January 20th to hear some remarks from Professor Lipkin on the significance of the Inauguration and its connection to Martin Luther King before watching Widener Law Adjunct and new Vice President Joseph Biden Jr. and President Barack Obama take their oaths of office.

In his comments prior to the Inauguration, Professor Lipkin called the Obama presidency “a new chapter in the American narrative.” He described Martin Luther King Jr. as “the beginning of a prophecy,” and added, “I am incredulous. I am amazed at what’s going on today.” Drawing on his own experiences growing up during the Civil Rights movement, Professor Lipkin described Obama’s Inauguration as a huge step on the trail blazed by Dr. King. He closed by saying, “Though we still have a lot to do, our world will never be the same.”

After watching Vice President Biden take the oath of office from Justice John Paul Stevens, the Widener audience cheered loudly. Following President Obama’s own chance to take his oath of office, he gave a stirring speech, saying, “For as much as government can do and must do, it is ultimately the faith and determination of the American people upon which this nation relies. It is the kindness to take in a stranger when the levees break, the selflessness of workers who would rather cut their hours than see a friend lose their job, which sees us through our darkest hours. It is the firefighter's courage to storm a stairway filled with smoke, but also a parent's willingness to nurture a child, that finally decides our fate.”

While acknowledging and even highlighting the challenges facing the country, the President also offered hope, stating, “Let it be said by our children's children that when we were tested we refused to let this journey end, that we did not turn back nor did we falter; and with eyes fixed on the horizon and God's grace upon us, we carried forth that great gift of freedom and delivered it safely to future generations,” before closing with the words, “Thank you. God bless you. And God bless the United States of America.”

Prior to Professor Lipkin’s comments, Professor Hayman also announced the Martin Luther King Semester of Service, a program jointly sponsored by the Public Interest Resource Center and the Law and Inequality Project. Students interested in learning more about the program should contact the PIRC office.