Inauguration: Perspectives

. Jan 22, 2009

President Barack Obama's Inaugural Address

Several months ago, the day after the election solidified Obama's victory, to be exact, we reached out to other bloggers, managers, artist, and others to speak on how they felt about this historic event. The tireless contributions of an incredible grassroots campaign, along with the galvanizing effect of Obama's presence and perspective, culminated in a weekend-long affair that finally resulted in the swearing-in of now-President Barack Obama. The entire episode was nothing short of spectacular and somber, hardly reminiscent of past inaugurations, which paled in comparison to Obama's. There was a sense of justice and righteousness, as millions gathered to traverse thousands of miles to reach the nation's capital. Unlike past migrations to the heartland of politics, swarms of people were comprised of individuals from both the Baby Boom Generation and Generation-X, solidified by an individual who orchestrated a beautiful campaign and who represented not only a mixed-racial background but also an international background, a new perspective that could fully appreciate the nuances of both domestic and foreign issues. Bush represented elitism that understood issues only in black and white, while Obama is otherwise: a unique individual whose black and white roots led him to Indonesia and eventually to Africa to re-evaluate his roots, all while connecting with the people when in Chicago. He is the new voice or, at the very least, the outlet of many voices.

It was only fitting that during the benediction that rang in the end of the inaugural ceremony at the Capital, the third stanza of the Negro National Anthem was delivered by Reverend Joseph Lowery. Only several decades ago did this National Anthem represent a time of struggle, of isolation, of danger, and of nary a hope of equality. And, now, this Anthem represents a celebration of a nation's progression, and while such a progression is nowhere finished, the deliverance of the beginning of that stanza signifies a shift in America's ideology and a rebirth, if you will, of a new America, represented in large part by the President's ascendancy. While racism is still alive, there is indeed hope that the consideration of qualification would not be plagued by racial considerations. It is my hope that people will continue to contribute to this posting by emailing us to add their opinions or by commenting on this post. As such, I present to you the voices of others who have been inspired to reflect on these past days - from the election to the inauguration.

Reverend Joseph Lowery's Benediction

Jamie Benson, host of WRGW Radio's Funkadelic Freestyles:
Two weeks before the election, I asked my program director here at GWU's campus radio station what she had planned for the evening of November 4th. I figured they'd want the news team to stay on-air until the election was called, but to my surprise I was granted five full hours from 7pm to midnight. I immediately began brainstorming how I could incorporate my progressive hip hop show with the political themes surrounding such an historic night. A week later, I had over 15 artists from the DC/MD/VA area signed on to provide their unique perspectives on the most important election of my lifetime. Fast forward to Tuesday night and the euphoric celebration that erupted among nearly forty people; artists and friends of multiple races packed into our small basement studio. Immediately I cut off all the microphones and threw on Nas' "Black President" as fists raised in the air and folks stood triumphantly on the seats of chairs. Words cannot describe how magical and emotional that particular moment in time was...though I'm quite sure I'll never forget it. For those who have just read my words: thank you; thank you for voting for Barack Obama and thank you to the artists and friends who agreed to spend their night on the radio. Even if we somehow book Jay-Z for a future studio appearance, I don't think he'll be able to top the incredible feelings of election night here at WRGW Radio.

Gowhere Hip Hop blog (quoted from their blog posting):
Change has come to America” says Barack Obama who also claims that “This is your victory!” Indeed it is because Barack Obama is the perfect candidate to rescue the country from two wars and an economic crisis that we have not seen this bad in a century. It will certainly take some time but I am beyond confident and hopeful that Obama is the best and right person for the enormous task ahead of us. Barack Obama is the personification of change and sooner or later, the country will rally behind him like the million-plus did tonight at Grant Park in Chicago! ... “Yes we can” remained as a powerful slogan at the conclusion of Obama’s inspiring speech and left me and many others across the world even more confident that he is the right man to lead the United States in the future! God bless America!

Leon Scott:
I never thought that I would live to see this day. That said, the work is just beginning. I hope people continue to show this same level of passion and inspiration once Obama is officially in office. Also, folks need to remember to be realistic, and realize that Barack Obama will not be able to fix everything right away. That said, the future for America is looking extremely bright now that he's in office.

Also, his win is bringing out a lot of people's true colors! Some of the things I've seen on websites and heard on TV are just flat-out ridiculous. A lot of white people have avoided talking about the topic of race, for fear that they'll say too much and reveal their true feelings...But now, it's out in the open, and it's funny hearing folks stumble over their words, or look at someone's face and almost see the wheels turning in his/her head as they search for a diplomatic way to express themselves!

Chris DeLine:
Regardless of party affiliation (or lack thereof) Obama's speech in Chicago's Grant Park was one of the most uplifting and inspiring that I have ever heard. To give someone without health care and a living wage hope for a better tomorrow is not an easy thing to do. But here I am, still reeling in unbelief of a chance at brighter future and (dare I say) an honest feeling of pride in that fact that I am an American.

Henry Rollins once suggested that it would be the coolest thing in the world to have the Ramones or James Brown as President, because no matter where they went - shit would blow up and parties would break out. How amazing would that be - to not hate your nation's leader - to celebrate the fact that you voted for him and that he actually considers those he represents? If Obama comes back to Minneapolis, I guarentee that shit will blow up and a party will break out - because that's what we will have come - a president that we love.

Amanda Bassa:
November 4th, 2008, will be remembered by many as the day that America saw its first [half] black President. The day that they saw a glimmer of hope emerge through the cloudy mess of lies and failure that was the previous eight years of the Bush administration. The day when people of every racial and religious background came together in the streets to celebrate - not to fight, riot, or protest. A day of unity, accomplishment, and progress. And although I immersed myself in the happiness for a bit, I don't allow myself to forget that the man that Americans have proven themselves to believe in has a very long road ahead of him. If you want him to live up to his words and come through on the promises that he made to you during his campaign, your support of him must not end simply because he won the election. And although I would love to be completely positive during this time, my cynical nature is reminding me that only time will tell if he lives up to the hope that he gave the citizens of this nation. I am ecstatic for the hope he has spread amongst a people who have been done wrong by their government, I just realize that we have a long way to go before we see injustice and corruption addressed and eradicated in our streets, and throughout the world as well. Let's just hope that we continue on an upward trend.

Santo Angelo:
History will be made on January 20th, 2009, and it's not just a victory for all African-American people, it's a win for everyone who come from a non-Caucasian ethnic background. Barack Obama gave the world hope. From slavery to presidency nothing is impossible, and that means something more than words can ever say.

Darrell Bennett (quoted from a paper):
Just as the signing of the Declaration of Independence and the end of the Civil War are noted as watershed moments in our American experience, so shall the election of Barack Hussein Obama II as the 44th President of the United States. The unlikely campaign that became Barack Obama’s epic journey to the American Presidency will be written and talked about for many decades to come. He began as a political candidate and became a cultural icon. His one-line slogan became a chant resounding amongst a chorus of millions of voices in this nation and abroad. Similarly, Obama’s victory has become a symbol, an indelible mark on the modern era.

The impact of this ideological shift cannot be overstated. Obama’s victory is not only watershed because he is the first African-American to reach such heights, but also because he is the first non-white person to do so. Obama represents black Americans as well as larger communities of historically disenfranchised and marginalized citizens. Consequentially, tens of millions of Americans who have traditionally been made to feel inferior—simply because of the color of their skin—see that power can be theirs as well. Chris Rock best expressed this sentiment in his recent 2008 comedy tour. His motivation for voting for Obama was so that his children could know “what white children have known all along…[that] they can be anything they want to be.” Obama’s election to the pinnacle of State power is a constant reminder that the days of white exclusivity on power are over.

The mere sight of Barack Obama, a black man, ascending the stage to declare victory on election night with his black wife, black mother-in-law and two black daughters was enough to move many onlookers to tears. I look forward to many more images of our newly-elected First Family: i.e. surrounded by Secret Service agents, getting onto Air Force One, stepping out of the Presidential motorcade, lighting the national Christmas tree, waving in front of Marine One, playing on the South Lawn, hosting heads-of-state, sitting behind the desk in the Oval Office, and, of course, standing alongside the Capitol on January 20, 2009 taking the oath of the highest office in the land.

iLLVibes would like to thank all those who contributed their opinions and for providing advice on this particular posting. Once again, we hope that many more will contribute their thoughts in the days and months to come and to continuously check back on what this posting has to offer. Thanks all!

Be sure to check out our Obama posting that was written a day after the election, with quotables from others who provided their insights at that time!