ABC News' Sunlen Miller Reports: In a speech before a Fort Wayne, Indiana town hall event, Sen. Barack Obama addressed the 40th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr's death.
At the top of his prepared remarks solely devoted to the anniversary, the Illinois senator said he had spoken to the King family this morning and then prompted the crowd to observe a moment of silence.
Obama called King an extraordinary American whose assassination, “left a wound on the soul of our nation that has yet to fully heal.”
Obama said the dream that King began has not been completed, and it is all Americans task to now help finish.
He referenced his own speech on race in this context, “this is something I spoke about a few weeks ago in a speech I gave in Philadelphia. And what I said was that instead of having a politics that up to Dr. King’s call for unity, we’ve had a politics that’s used race to drive us apart, when all this does is feed the forces of division and distraction, and stops us from solving our problems. That is why the great need of this hour is much the same as it was when Dr. King delivered his sermon in Memphis.”
Obama said earlier that he chose to commemorate the day with campaign events in Indiana and North Dakota because he wanted to spread the message of Dr. King’s legacy to unfinished places. Indiana also has a place in today’s history, it was the place where Robert Kennedy was campaigning when news broke of King’s assassination. Obama was introduced at his town hall today by Mike Riley who served as Indiana chairman for Kennedy’s campaign and was with Kennedy when he spoke in Indianapolis after receiving notice of King’s death.