Inauguration change makes the president share holiday - WDAM - TV 7 - News, Weather and Sports

Inauguration to share a holiday with Civil Rights, Civil War figures

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President Barack Obama takes the oath of office at the 2009 presidential inauguration. (Source: CNN) President Barack Obama takes the oath of office at the 2009 presidential inauguration. (Source: CNN)
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(RNN) - Monday's presidential inauguration will share the day with two other observances - Martin Luther King Jr. Day and, in a few states, Robert E. Lee Day.

The 20th amendment states a president and vice president must begin their term at noon on Jan. 20. Since Jan. 20 falls on a Sunday this year, President Barack Obama will take the oath of office privately on Sunday, then again publicly on Monday, Jan. 21.

This is only the third time in history when the inauguration has been moved to a date other than Jan. 20 when the death or resignation of a president was not involved.

In somewhat of an ironic twist, the date is also reserved for Martin Luther King Jr. Day and Robert E. Lee Day.

Two men in stark contrast, King and Lee stand on opposite sides of a series of historical events that ultimately shaped the way the nation handles race relations.

Both born in January, they also share a common holiday commemorating their birthdays - the third Monday of the month.

Lee was the commander of the Confederate forces in the Civil War. He fought against the north for four grueling years in a war that saw the deaths of hundreds of thousands as he battled for the South's way of life - including the possession of slaves.

Robert E. Lee day is recognized as a state holiday in Arkansas, Alabama, Georgia and Mississippi. Lee-Jackson Day, which also recognizes Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson, is celebrated the Friday before Martin Luther King Day in Virginia.

Meanwhile, King is remembered for being one of, if not the most memorable figures of the Civil Rights movement in the 1950s and 1960s, which fought for the end of racial discrimination against black people. The movement brought about the end of segregation, a practice where white and black Americans lived in fundamentally different, and unequal, worlds.

King was assassinated in Memphis, TN in 1968. The Civil Rights Movement ended later that year, but it was not the end of a societal overhaul the country would continue to work through regarding the rights of minorities.

Forty years later, history was made when the first black president, Obama, was elected to the highest office in the country in 2008.

Monday will mark the start of his second term as president.

One other president has shared Inauguration Day with Martin Luther King Jr. Day - former President Bill Clinton in 1997.

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