Wednesday, January 21, 2009

High office at a low moment.

A few of my favorite things from the inauguration (other than the simple fact of inaugurating a President I can be proud of):

Yo-Yo Ma, Itzhak Perlman and company, performing a John Williams piece that found Williams being his best Aaron Copland.

The Queen of Soul and her Magical Giant Bowed Hat.

Dr. Joseph Lowery’s benediction (in its entirety here). After the man helped co-lead the Montgomery bus boycott, after he led the Selma March at King’s request, after working close to the dreams of Dr. King then watching him be gunned down. The man still has crystal perspective and an astonishing sense of humor about him. May the red man get ahead, man...

The attendance of 105 year old Clevelander, Ella Mae Johnson, whose sentiment about Obama I share: “My hope for him is my hope for the country. If he fails, the country fails.” She was at Fisk in the 1920s when W.E.B DuBois spoke there. She got her masters in social work in 1929 from what is now Case Western, but couldn’t live on the campus because of her race. Good NPR story on her here.

After much past—and continuing—darkness (no pun intended) about race in this country, I believe that it says a great thing about us all that a man whose family’s racial mix would have resulted in a hard time being seated in restaurants or housed in hotels in this country around the time when he was born, has grown up to be elected—in a landslide—the 44th President of these United States.

God bless him in the enormous task ahead. And may we all be encouraged to pitch in and shout out, rather than standing back and watching feeling dumbstruck and powerless as we have much of the last eight years. Could we ever believe in a government “of the people, by the people, and for the people” again? Let’s hope the fact that Obama accepted his party’s nomination in Springfield, Illinois and was sworn in using the very bible that Abraham Lincoln was sworn in with 147 year ago will be far more than empty symbolism.

Let’s hope!