Cornel West criticizes Obama’s use of MLK Bible at inauguration

Professor and author Cornel West makes a point while addressing the crowd at the 'State Of The Black Union' symposium at the Ernest E. Morial Convention Center February 23, 2008 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Richard Alan Hannon/Getty Images)

Professor and author Cornel West makes a point while addressing the crowd at the 'State Of The Black Union' symposium at the Ernest E. Morial Convention Center February 23, 2008 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Richard Alan Hannon/Getty Images)

Professor and activist Cornel West has made no secret about his disdain for President Barack Obama.

He has called the president a “Republican in blackface” and, along with talk show host Tavis Smiley, he has regularly excoriated him for not doing enough to address urban poverty in America.

Now West is lashing out at Obama for using a restored Bible which once belonged to the late Martin Luther King Jr. during his inauguration ceremonies this week.

“You don’t play with Martin Luther King, Jr. and you don’t play with his people,” said West during an appearance on CSPAN.

“All of the blood, sweat and tears that went into producing a Martin Luther King, Jr. generated a brother of such high decency and dignity that you don’t use his prophetic fire for a moment of presidential pageantry without understanding the challenge he represents to all of those in power regardless of what color they are,” he added.

Smiley has made similar remarks in the wake of Obama’s decision to use the Bible, which was included in the inaugural at the King family’s request.

“The real Martin King would not stand for this country rendering poor people invisible,” Smiley said recently.

“I said to myself ain’t nothing wrong with putting your hand on the Bible, even though the Bible’s talking about justice, Jesus is talking about the least of these, but when you put it on Martin’s Bible, I said ‘this is personal for me,’ because this is the tradition that I come out of,” added West.

Rev. Al Sharpton, who attended the inauguration and was seated with the King family, reacted to West’s statements on Monday.

“Martin III and his wife was there” at the inaugural ceremony, Sharpton told theGrio. “The King family gave him the Bible. I came out of the King movement and was there. So I don’t understand what is the basis of Dr. West’s statement, given all that.”

Click here to watch more of West’s remarks.