WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama honored the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on Monday by joining a painting project at a school on Capitol Hill.
On the federal holiday named for the slain civil rights leader, Obama brought his family to Stuart Hobson Middle School, where he and first lady Michelle Obama helped paint bright red apple characters on pillars in the lunchroom to encourage healthier eating. Their daughters, Malia, 12, and Sasha, 9, sat separately at tables and worked on other painting projects.
Obama said King's legacy is also about service, in addition to his pursuit of justice and equality. Obama urged Americans to get out into their communities on Monday — a step he suggested would have special meaning after the Jan. 8 shooting rampage in Tucson, Ariz. "After a painful week where so many of us were focused on tragedy, it's good for us to remind ourselves of what this country is all about," he said. "This kind of service project is what's best in us."
Across the nation, thousands volunteered for service projects and more reflected on King's lessons of nonviolence and civility.
National and local politicians joined members of the King family at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta to mark what would have been the 82nd birthday of the civil rights icon and Nobel Peace Prize winner, who was killed in 1968.
Rep. John Lewis of Georgia, who worked with King during the civil rights movement, issued a renewed call for Americans to unite in peace and love as King preached during his lifetime.