For those few African Americans who claim they don’t feel the same sense of euphoria, think again: Monday’s inauguration of President Barack Obama was still all about making history.
I’ve overheard some black residents of Washington, D.C. talking about how Obama’s inauguration was no longer important, or somehow insignificant, because we’ve been there, done that in 2009.
Obama’s remarkable road to the White House as America’s first black president continued Monday with four more years in the Oval Office, which forever sealed an extraordinary legacy. It was not only a moment that filled millions of hearts with pride – it also filled hearts with hope.
“Today I say to you that the challenges we face are real, they are serious and they are many. They will not be met easily or in a short span of time. But know this America: They will be met,” Obama said during his 15-minute inaugural address.
“Starting today,” the president said, “we must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and begin again the work of remaking America.”
Obama began a second term in the White House Monday after reciting the oath of office before an estimated 600,000 people — many of them African Americans — who traveled hundreds of miles to witness a poignant moment in American history.
Thousands of flag-waving Americans watched history unfold as Obama started the first day of his second term.
“Our journey is not complete,” Obama said.
No, it isn’t.
In the weeks ahead, Obama will likely hear from some of his black constituents – and his black critics — who want to see the president openly embrace his blackness and aggressively address issues of concern for African Americans.
Monday’s swearing-in ceremony, however, was the president’s understated way of showing the skeptics that he embraces the legacy of the civil rights movement and the black experience in America.
The president not only invoked the civil rights struggle in his speech on Monday, but he incorporated race into his inauguration by using two Bibles while taking the oath of office: One Bible owned by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and the other used by Abraham Lincoln. King carried his Bible during the civil rights movement and Lincoln used his Bible during his first inauguration in 1861.
The president’s inauguration coincided with the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington led by King, the 150th anniversary of Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation, where more than three million black people were freed from slavery. Monday was also the official federal holiday to honor King’s life and his contributions to America. King delivered his famous “I Have a Dream” speech 50 years ago at the Lincoln Memorial.