Tavis Smiley to Obama: Take MLK Bust Out of Oval Office

Melanie Arter | September 9, 2013 | 12:26pm EDT
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TV and radio host Tavis Smiley (AP Photo)

(CNSNews.com) – Radio host Tavis Smiley said President Barack Obama should remove the bust of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., which was added to the Oval Office during Obama’s first term, because of the president’s willingness to go to war with Syria.

“Here you have a war president with a peace prize. Once again the parallel between King and Obama just doesn’t measure up. He ought to just take that bust out of the Oval Office if you’re going to dishonor Martin in this way,” West said.

Obama added the bust of MLK to the Oval Office in 2009, replacing the bust of Sir Winston Churchill, marking the first time an image of an African-American was displayed in the president’s work quarters, NBC Washington reported on March 19, 2009.

The bust is located adjacent to a bust of former President Abraham Lincoln, ABC News’ Jake Tapper reported on March 18, 2009.

In 2000, the bust first made history as the first image of an African-American in a public space in the White House, according to Tapper, when the Smithsonian lent the bust to the Clinton administration so it could be displayed in the White House Library.

Smiley, co-host of the show “Smiley & West” with liberal activist and scholar Dr. Cornel West, said Obama dishonors King’s legacy by promoting “militarism,” something the civil rights leader was expressly against.

Obama spoke on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial last month to mark the 50th anniversary of Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream Speech.”

“And the president used the phrase as you recall, Doc, in his speech. He talked about the moral power of non-violence. He talked about the moral force of non-violence. Those are his words on Wednesday and then you look up at 48 hours later and then you these plans to go to Syria,” Smiley said.

“So I just wanted the country to be mindful of the fact that you can’t do justice to Martin’s legacy by talking about the moral force – that soul force of non-violence one day and then a couple days later you do a 180,” Smiley added.

Obama was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2009 “for his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples.”

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