Inauguration 2009 January 22, 2009Posted by Wheneva Whateva in Black History, Black Is Beautiful, I Heart Music, Politics, Recap.
Tags: 2009, 44, barack obama, inauguration, martin luther king, michelle, mlk, obama, president
We Are One
This inauguration has been about connecting-connecting with family, fellow Obama supporters, and complete strangers. I kicked off my inauguration week by attending the “We Are One” concert on Sunday at the Lincoln Memorial. I arrived at the memorial shortly after 8am, and made my way as far to the front as possible. Unfortunately I neglected to bring a blanket or something to sit on. The ground was freezing, but in the spirit of truly becoming one a group of Georgetown students offered me a space on their blanket.
There I met Jeff, a Georgetown freshman from California. He was the most vocal of the group and mainly came to see Bruce Springsteen. Jeff took every opportunity to yell “Bruce” throughout the day. I also meet another Georgetown student, Rob, who I discovered was from New Orleans and born in the same hospital as me. Will, an older gentleman, once lived in the same city as I do now. He called his cousin, Sarah, was visiting from New York to come to the concert. Sarah was able to join us just in time for the start.
The Bidens walked down the steps of the memorial to thunderous applause. Next came Michelle & Barack, and the crowd went crazy. Some of the highlight performances include Mary J. Blige singing “Lean on Me,” and U2’s “In the Name of Love.” The most memorable performance was Grath Brooks’ rendition of “American Pie” and “Shout,” where the entire crowd participated.
A Day On
On Monday I spent the morning in downtown DC at the Martin Luther King Library helping with the We Feed Our People event. This is the twenty-second year the organization has held an outdoor soup kitchen to feed the homeless. Here I met Beverly, who was from Atlanta. She got right to work and jumped in wherever there was a need. After setting up the food for the serving line we were treated to a concert sponsored by Feeding America. The concert was hosted by David Arquette, and featured speeches by Ben Affleck and Martin Luther King III. The performers were Josh Groban joined by Herbie Hancock on a jazzy rendition of “Imagine.”
During the concert I met Crystal, who is originally from Philly, but she currently lives in Boston. I lived in Cambridge, MA for seven years so I was pretty excited. We talked about what it meant to be in the city for inauguration, our HBCU college experience, and what the future of the country would be with a new administration. Later on I met Kathleen, who is from New Orleans and currently lives in North Carolina. It was amazing just meeting people who traveled to be here for this historic event.
A Dream Fulfilled
Tuesday finally came. My parents had flown in from New Orleans on Sunday evening to be here for the historic inauguration. We woke up at 2:30am to be in the metro parking line for 3am. After waiting in traffic for an hour we finally made our way to the National Mall. Everywhere I looked were a multiracial and generational mix of people who represented with their Barack paraphernalia. Even the 20-degree weather didn’t limit the spontaneous and joyous outburst of the crowd as the sun rose over the Capital building. The crowd continued to fill in as the jumbotrons showed the “We Are One” concert from Sunday. An interesting moment came when a reporter from Lithuania interviewed my mom.
The program finally got started. Celebrities made they way to their seats. Who would’ve ever thought Beyonce, Jay-Z, and Diddy would have VIP seats at a Presidential Inauguration? The processional of members of Congress and other high-ranking officials drew cheers (Colin Powell, Ted Kennedy, Al Gore, Bill Clinton) and boos (Joe Liberman and George W. Bush) from crowd. Senator Feinstein correctly placed this moment in context. A black man would be inaugurated as President of the United States in the shadow of Dr. King’s “I Have A Dream” speech. Rev. Rick Warren delivered a beautiful invocation calling on Americans to unite despite differences in race or religion. Even his previous controversy couldn’t take away from the message of unity. The Queen, Ms. Aretha, captured the soul of a nation singing ” My Country Tis of Thee” as only she could. Biden was sworn in, followed by a beautiful musical selection composed by John Williams.
Then the man of the hour stepped up with his family to place his hand on the bible. Obama’s smile walking up to the podium just wiped the cold air away. Chief Justice Roberts messed up the oath, but the calm and collected Obama stopped to allow Roberts to correct himself. It was a surreal moment when the military gave President Obama a 21-gun salute and “Hail to the Chief” was played. President Barack Obama-it has such a beautiful ring to it. My President is black. Even as I watched it happen before my eyes I still can’t wrap my head around it. It was a wonderful moment to share with my parents, who are the direct recipients of the civil rights generation.
President Obama’s inaugural address reflected not only the current state of affairs, but also a new style of leadership, simply leading by example. The President continued his overall campaign message of change, and yet it was the reflection on the past that made the speech great. I have no doubt that this address will be quoted for many generations for its poetic call for the nation to work individually and collectively to recapture the true essence of this nation. My President is black and it feels good! But, this is just the beginning. There is work to be done.
“For we know that our patchwork heritage is a strength, not a weakness. We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus — and non-believers. We are shaped by every language and culture, drawn from every end of this Earth; and because we have tasted the bitter swill of civil war and segregation, and emerged from that dark chapter stronger and more united, we cannot help but believe that the old hatreds shall someday pass; that the lines of tribe shall soon dissolve; that as the world grows smaller, our common humanity shall reveal itself; and that America must play its role in ushering in a new era of peace.”
–President Barack Obama