I’m not sure what to make of this, but the NAACP just sent out a press release congratulating President Obama on his Nobel Prize and noting the storied company in which it puts him:
President Obama joins the likes of Kofi Annan, Nelson Mandela, the Dalai Lama, Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Mother Teresa in winning the Nobel Peace Prize and is also only the third sitting President to receive this honor, with President Theodore Roosevelt and President Wilson preceding him. President Jimmy Carter and Vice President Al Gore are also Nobel Peace Prize winners after they left the White House.
But the release makes no mention of Martin Luther King, Jr., who at age 35 in 1964 was the youngest person to win the Nobel Peace prize at that time and turned over the prize money to advance the cause of civil rights.
I don’t want to overstate the omission because I suspect it’s just an inadvertent oversight. But the fact is Obama is connected umbilically to King through so many historical threads. Without King, it’s difficult to envision a Obama presidency. Both of them winning Nobels adds to the richness of that historic connection. For all its political salience today, awarding the Nobel to Obama is also a ratification of King — and of the decision the Nobel committee made 45 years ago.