Christine King Farris, sister of Martin Luther King, Jr, smiles as President Barack Obama is sworn in on her brother’s bible as she watches from Ebenezer Baptist Church following the 45th Martin Luther King, Jr. Annual Commemorative Service in Atlanta, Georgia, January 21
President Barack Obama, first lady Michelle Obama and Vice President Joe Biden pay their respects at the Martin Luther King, Jr. statue in the Capitol rotunda
Parade: If you were female, we would ask, “How has being female affected your ability to govern?” So, how has being black affected your ability to govern?
PO: I’m sure it makes me more determined in assuring that everybody’s getting a fair shot—in the same way that being a father of two daughters makes me want to make sure that every woman is getting equal pay for equal work, ’cause I don’t want my daughters treated differently than somebody else’s sons. By virtue of being African-American, I’m attuned to how throughout this country’s history there have been times when folks have been locked out of opportunity, and because of the hard work of people of all races, slowly those doors opened to more and more people. Equal opportunity doesn’t just happen on its own; it happens because we’re vigilant about it. But part of this is not just because we’re African-American—it’s also because Michelle and I were born into pretty modest means. And so I think about my single mom and what it was like to go to school and work at the same time. And I think about Michelle’s dad, who had a disability and was working every day and didn’t have a lot of money to spare. But somehow our parents or grandparents were able to give us these opportunities partly because they lived in a society that said that was important. And as president, I want to affirm that that’s important and reject the idea that if we just reward those at the top, that somehow that’s going to work for everybody—’cause that hasn’t been how America got built.