For mayor of Auburn, a remarkable current event

Gregory Rec/Staff Photographer:
On the National Mall near the Capitol in Washington, D.C. on Monday, January 19, 2008, Auburn Mayor John Jenkins reflects on being in the nation's capital for the inauguration of Barack Obama.

Auburn mayor John JenkinsĀ  ’74 was the subject of a story by longtime Portland Press Herald columnist Bill Nemitz, who wrote, “Forty years ago last spring, John Jenkins stood on the stage at his high school in Newark, N.J., and proudly shook the hand of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. One week after that, King was dead, felled by an assassin’s bullet. And Newark, like so many other American cities, was ablaze with anger. Now here Jenkins stood on the National Mall…on the morning of Martin Luther King Day. In a day’s time, hundreds of thousands of Americans were going to pack this frozen space to witness the inauguration of…the country’s first black president.” Jenkins, who is black, told Nemitz that Obama connects with mainstream white America because he speaks about everyday problems using everyday language. The effect is “transformational,” Jenkins said. “It really changes people’s hearts. It’s not that you change them. They change themselves.”

Read Bill Nemitz’s article here.

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