Exactly 150 years after the Emancipation Proclamation, and on the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and 50 years after the March on Washington, President Barack Obama delivered a progressive and stunning speech centered around the notion of equality on the steps of the U.S. Capitol before thousands.
SPECIAL INAUGURAL REPORT
Naming each of the turning points of watershed moments in American history and emphasizing repeatedly the Declaration of Independence that “it is self evident that all men are created equal,” Obama challenged the nation to be more forward thinking in his historic inaugural speech after his reelection.
Specifically addressing voting rights, women’s rights, gay and lesbian rights, immigration reform, health care reform and global climate change, and mentioning Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Obama’s remarks reached out to both Democrats and Republicans alike to seize this moment together.
“Today we continue a never-ending journey to bridge the meaning of those words with the realities of our time. For history tells us that while these truths may be self-evident, they’ve never been self-executing; that while freedom is a gift from God, it must be secured by His people here on Earth,” Obama said. “The patriots of 1776 did not fight to replace the tyranny of a king with the privileges of a few or the rule of a mob. They gave to us a Republic, a government of, and by, and for the people, entrusting each generation to keep safe our founding creed.”
Obama said through blood drawn by lash and blood drawn by sword, “We learned that no union founded on the principles of liberty and equality could survive half-slave and half-free. We made ourselves anew, and vowed to move forward together.”
“Together, we discovered that a free market only thrives when there are rules to ensure competition and fair play,” Obama said. “Together, we resolved that a great nation must care for the vulnerable, and protect its people from life’s worst hazards and misfortune.”
Reminding the nation of the battles that were fought for the dignity of every person Obama put it bluntly, “We, the people, declare today that the most evident of truths –- that all of us are created equal –- is the star that guides us still; just as it guided our forebears through Seneca Falls, and Selma, and Stonewall; just as it guided all those men and women, sung and unsung, who left footprints along this great Mall, to hear a preacher say that we cannot walk alone; to hear a King proclaim that our individual freedom is inextricably bound to the freedom of every soul on Earth.”
With rhetorical ingenuity Obama anchored his speech on the theme of the 57 inaugural celebration “Faith in America’s Future.”
“It is now our generation’s task to carry on what those pioneers began. For our journey is not complete until our wives, our mothers and daughters can earn a living equal to their efforts,” Obama said to the thunderous applause of more than a half million people. “Our journey is not complete until our gay brothers and sisters are treated like anyone else under the law. For if we are truly created equal, then surely the love we commit to one another must be equal as well.”
The president went on as his speech was numerously interrupted with applauses.
“Our journey is not complete until no citizen is forced to wait for hours to exercise the right to vote. Our journey is not complete until we find a better way to welcome the striving, hopeful immigrants who still see America as a land of opportunity until bright young students and engineers are enlisted in our workforce rather than expelled from our country,” Obama said.
Zeroing on the urban safety crisis and the debate on gun control, Obama specifically mentioned Detroit.
“Our journey is not complete until all our children, from the streets of Detroit to the hills of Appalachia, to the quiet lanes of Newtown, know that they are cared for and cherished and always safe from harm,” Obama said.
Re-echoing a campaign theme about the future of the middle class Obama said, “For we, the people, understand that our country cannot succeed when a shrinking few do very well and a growing many barely make it. We believe that America’s prosperity must rest upon the broad shoulders of a rising middle class.”
The president went on “We know that America thrives when every person can find independence and pride in their work; when the wages of honest labor liberate families from the brink of hardship. We are true to our creed when a little girl born into the bleakest poverty knows that she has the same chance to succeed as anybody else, because she is an American; she is free, and she is equal, not just in the eyes of God but also in our own.”
After the inauguration the Obamas stopped at the Capitol Rotunda to pay homage to Dr. King’s bust.
During the parade Obama waved to floats of Dr. King and the Tuskegee Airmen.
Bankole Thompson is a Senior Author-in-Residence at Global Mark Makers Publishing House in Iowa where he is writing a groundbreaking six-part book series on the Obama presidency. His book “Obama and Black Loyalty” published in 2010 follows his recent book “Obama and Christian Loyalty” with a foreword by Bob Weiner former White House spokesman. His forthcoming books in 2012 are “Obama and Jewish Loyalty” and “Obama and Business Loyalty.” He is the first editor of a major African American newspaper to have a series of sit-down interviews with Barack Obama. Thompson is also a Senior Political News Analyst at WDET-101.9FM Detroit (NPR Affiliate) and a member of the weekly “Obama Watch” Sunday evening round table on WLIB-1190AM New York and simulcast in New Jersey and Connecticut.