Slow change frustrated young Obama, friends say

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As a young man, Barack Obama idolized the leaders of the Civil Rights Movement.

"Reading about people not that much older than me who had gone to jail and suffered beatings in order to liberate a people," he said, "I thought there's something powerful about that."

Fellow Harvard University student Kenneth Mack remembered walking around the Harvard Law campus with his friend, who was constantly quoting the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.

" 'The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice,' " Mack remembered Obama saying. "For other people to say things like that, people wouldn't take it seriously, but with Barack, people really did take him seriously. They thought of him as someone who really sincerely believed it."

But Obama was about 20 years too late to join King's movement. So, he decided to do the next best thing. In 1985, a few years before he went to Harvard, Obama took a job as a community organizer.
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