Obama Pushes Diversity and Unity in His Second Inauguration
Now there’s the President Barack Obama we remember! The President laid out an ambitious tone for his second term in his inauguration speech, inspiring hope for equality and unity in the nation. Obama’s 20-minute speech, while different than his 2009 inauguration speech, echoed many of the sentiments from the 2012 campaign trail, especially his keynote at the Democratic National Convention.
Gone was the somber, cautious Obama we’ve seen in recent months, and back is the idealistic young Senator from Illionois – although with a few more gray hairs. Perhaps the President was emboldened after last week's executive orders on gun control -- a topic he didn't emphasize today. Instead, the speech touted diversity, equality, and the ability of the American people to help themselves, if given the opportunity -– while at the same time highlighting the need for all Americans to work together, not as factions. Big cheers for mentions of the environmental protection, equal pay for women, gay rights, voting rights for all, welcoming immigrants. Some of his mentions were more subtle, such as the inclusion of Stonewall, New York – the site of a major gay rights demonstration in 1969 – along with Seneca Falls and Selma.
This is a very different speech than he gave last time -- and I like it a lot better.— Jonathan Cohn (@CitizenCohn) January 21, 2013
Wow. Notice he said: (diversity) doesn't make us a nation of takers... it makes this country great.Throwback to the election.— Soledad O'Brien (@Soledad_OBrien) January 21, 2013
Tell 'em, POTUS! "The rights of Constitution may be self-evident, but not self-executing." #Inaug2013— Andrea Plaid (@AndreaPlaid) January 21, 2013
Glad Obama addressed gender equality, but wish he didn't phrase it relationally to men: "our wives, our mothers, & daughters."— Jessica Valenti (@JessicaValenti) January 21, 2013
I believe this is the most 'progressive' speech Obama has ever given— James Fallows (@JamesFallows) January 21, 2013
I thought it was pretty boring and familiar. But it fit with his legislative strategy of isolating Tea Partiers from the mainstream.— Michael Grunwald (@MikeGrunwald) January 21, 2013
Of course, the President shared the stage with many other Democratic luminaries, including Vice President Joe Biden his family and former President Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton. The Obama women turned heads on their own. Sasha, Malia and Michelle, entered with Grandma Marion Robinson. The girls wore pink and purple cloth coats, reminiscent of the first inauguration, but looking taller and much more grown-up today. As we’ve come to expect from the First Lady, the family was dressed in American fashions, J. Crew and Thom Browne quickly became buzzwords on Internets, as the requisite Obama fashion reports rolled out.
But the opening acts really stole the show, with a lineup that exemplified the inclusion diversity -- of gender, race and sexual orientation -- that was key to winning this second term. Myrlie Evers-Williams, widow of Civil Rights leader Medgar Evans and former head of the NAACP, became the first woman and first African-American to give an invocation at a presidential Inauguration, although she did make a minor flub, calling President Obama the 45th President (even though he was elected to a second term, he is still the 44th President).
If we ever decide to elect Invocation-givers for inaugurations, I hereby cast my vote forever for Myrlie Evers-Williams.— Rachel Maddow MSNBC (@maddow) January 21, 2013
When I think of voice of God, it's gonna sound like Ms. Evers-Williams. #Inaug2013— Andrea Plaid (@AndreaPlaid) January 21, 2013
Myrlie Evers saw her husband martyred, lives to call down blessing on"a nation of un-born hopes...to a more perfect union."— Scott Simon (@nprscottsimon) January 21, 2013
Let me just say that you can tell Myrlie Evers-Williams is a strong woman just by the way she speaks... Her voice and message was powerful— Allison(@Miss_AW) January 21, 2013
The Brooklyn Tabernacle choir brought down the house with their rendition of "The Battle Hymn of the Republic", overshadowing superstars who would perform after them, such as James Taylor, Kelly Clarkson, and Beyonce.
The Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir is signing the BattleHymn of the Republic. HmmThe Mormon Tabernacle Choir almost had that gig huh? #inaug2013— Jeneba Jalloh Ghatt (@JenebaSpeaks) January 21, 2013
I would actually rather see that Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir performance twice than James Taylor once. #Inaug2013— Genie Gratto (@egratto) January 21, 2013
Were you in Washington D.C. for today's event or did you watch from home? Tell us your thoughts in the comments!