Full Text January 16, 2012: President Barack Obama’s Speech at Martin Luther King, Jr. Day National Day of Service

POLITICAL SPEECHES & DOCUMENTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

First and Second Families Participate in a National Day of Service

Source: WH, 1-16-12

President Obama at Browne

President Barack Obama delivers remarks at Browne Education Campus in Washington, D.C., before participating in a Martin Luther King, Jr. Day service event with First Lady Michelle Obama and daughter Malia, Jan. 16, 2012. January 16, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Today, President Obama, the First Lady, and Malia Obama volunteered at a local elementary school as part of a national day of service in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Dr. King, who devoted his life to helping others, once said that “everybody can be great, because everybody can serve.”

Before pitching in to help clean, paint, and organize the school’s library, the President spoke to other volunteers from Big Brothers, Big Sisters and Greater DC Cares gathered for the event:

There’s nobody who can’t serve. Nobody who can’t help somebody else. And whether you’re seven or six or whether you’re 76, then you can find opportunities to make an enormous difference in your community.

The Vice President and Dr. Jill Biden also joined the millions of Americans participating in service events around the country. They traveled to Philadelphia to take part in the 17th annual Greater Philadelphia Martin Luther King Day of Service, the largest Martin Luther King Jr. Day event in the nation.

Vice President Biden and Dr. Jill Biden participate in MLK Day 
service event
Vice President Joe Biden and Dr. Jill Biden attend the 17th Annual Martin Luther King Day of Service at Girard College in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, January 16, 2012. January 16, 2012. (Official White House Photo by David Lienemann)

Read more about how the Obama Administration is honoring Dr. King’s legacy through service:

POLITICAL QUOTES & SPEECHES

Remarks by the President at a Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Service Event

Browne Education Campus
Washington, D.C.

9:57 A.M. EST

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, good morning, everybody!

AUDIENCE:  Good morning!

THE PRESIDENT:  Oh, this looks like an outstanding group, I can already tell.  I’m not going to make a long speech, because we’re here to do some work.  But mainly what I want to do is just to say thank you to all of you for participating.  I know there are a lot of organizations that are represented here today.  We are so glad to be at this outstanding school where we’re going to be doing a whole bunch of stuff to make it — make the facilities even better than they already are.

But this is the third year now that Michelle and Malia and usually Sasha is here — she couldn’t make it today — that we provide or engage in some sort of service on Dr. King’s birthday.  And there’s no better way to celebrate Dr. King than to do something on behalf of others.

I know there’s been a lot of controversy lately about the quote on the memorial and they’re changing it and making some modifications, but if you look at that speech talking about Dr. King as a drum major, what he really said was that all of us can be a drum major for service, all of us can be a drum major for justice.  There’s nobody who can’t serve.  Nobody who can’t help somebody else.  And whether you’re seven or six or whether you’re 76, then you can find opportunities to make an enormous difference in your community.  And at a time when the country has been going through some difficult economic times, for us to be able to come together as a community, people from all different walks of life, and make sure that we’re giving back, that’s ultimately what makes us the strongest, most extraordinary country on Earth, is because we pull together when times are good, but also when times are hard.  And you guys all represent that.

So on behalf of our family, we want to say thank you.  I’m sure Dr. King, were he here, he’d want to say thank you.  And I look forward to spending some time next to you guys.  Hopefully I have some good instructors here so that I don’t mess anything up.  So if you’re putting a paintbrush in my hands, make sure that I’ve got some very clear lines, and I’ll try to stay within them.

All right?  Thank you, everybody.  God bless you.  Thank you.  (Applause.)

END
10:00 A.M. EST

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