Obama Stresses Community Service on MLK Day

Updated:

President Barack Obama honored the memory of civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Monday by imploring the importance of service work as he helped students and volunteers at a Washington, D.C., school mentor program liven up a classroom with fruit-themed wall-paintings.

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First Lady Michelle Obama -- who was celebrating her 47th birthday Monday -- and daughters Sasha and Malia accompanied the president to the Stuart Hobson Middle School in northeastern Washington, D.C., where a casually-dressed Obama mingled with volunteers and took pictures with students.

Obama thanked the program’s volunteers, who work with students to help them stay in school and prepare for college, adding that their efforts are “what Martin Luther King’s birthday should be all about.”

Obama said that Dr. King “obviously had a dream of justice and equality” but added that he “also had a dream of service.”

“After a painful week where so many of us were focused on tragedy, it’s good for us to remind ourselves what this country is all about,” Obama added before indulging his creative side by splashing color on a fruit-themed cartoon painting.

Other members of the Obama administration were leading events honoring Dr. King Monday, the White House said.

Vice President Joe Biden was set to hold an event in Wilmington, Del., and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius was expected to deliver a speech in the capital that focused on the health care overhaul as a victory for civil rights.