And Obama also included Myrlie Evers-Williams in the program. Evers, the wife of the slain civil rights activist Medgar Evers, delivered the invocation for the inauguration.
“150 years after the Emancipation Proclamation and 50 years after the march on Washington, we celebrate the spirit of our ancestors,” said Evers, invoking the spirit and the struggles of the civil rights movement and the Civil War. “We recognized that their visions still inspire us.”
And today, for Obama, after the inaugural balls have ended and the speeches have concluded, the hard part begins: The president will certainly be challenged to create initiatives especially for African Americans who are struggling financially. And many blacks say they have been very patient, but have endured four years too long.
“Everyone agrees that you wish more was done the first term,” Debra Lee, the chief executive of Black Entertainment Television, told The New York Times. “But you look at politics and realize that the president can’t wave a wand and get things done by himself.”
But Obama is asking Americans to stay the course.
“We are made for this moment,” Obama said Monday. “This generation of Americans has been tested by crises that steeled our resolve and proved our resilience. A decade of war is now ending. An economic recovery has begun. America’s possibilities are limitless, for we possess all the qualities that this world without boundaries demands: youth and drive; diversity and openness; an endless capacity for risk and a gift for reinvention. My fellow Americans, we are made for this moment, and we will seize it – so long as we seize it together.”
Not everyone was in town to see Obama’s inauguration speech. Many Republicans –congressional leaders, consultants, GOP loyalists — intentionally left Washington, D.C. before the inaugural celebration began.
“Shame on Republicans who had to leave town and not be a part of this,” said Michael Steele, the former chairman of the Republican National Committee.
But Bill Murrain, a former civil rights attorney from Atlanta, said he was proud to attend Obama’s inauguration with his 15-year-old granddaughter and didn’t mind standing in the chilly weather for nearly four hours.
“I never thought I would see this day,” Murrain said. “And I certainly never thought I’d see it twice.”
What about you?