The most wonderful aspect of the inauguration of Barack Obama on January 21st was the message of tolerance and diversity that infused the proceedings. This boisterous proclamation that all peoples are represented and respected in this nation was apparent in the visuals of the crowds, the performers and participants in the ceremony, and the inaugural speech of the 44th President. The inaugural events were an explicit demonstration of an inclusive society.
President Obama spoke of a diverse nation working together to reach our collective betterment as one people, one that must elevate those in poverty, for we cannot rest until all have opportunity to achieve. He openly spoke of a need to support the rights of gays and lesbians, the first time a president has been so up front about that fact. Obama noted the necessity to continue the fight for women’s and civil rights that have been fervently waged over the last couple of centuries by so many in this country. He reminded Americans that the battle for rights, for all these diverse groups that make up the fabric of the nation, and one of the most colorful and interesting countries in the world, is not complete, but must carry on until true equality is met for all of America’s peoples.
The sight of the participants and viewers standing in the cold watching our second-term African-American president take the oath of office made that vision of equality a real possibility. We are living at the most tolerant point of our American history at this moment in time. The crowds cheering on the Washington Mall in such vast numbers was made up of a multitudinous array of faces that form this complex nation. This isn’t just diversity in race, sex, and orientation, but also in age. 90 year olds who never thought they’d see a black president, let alone see him reelected, to children brought by exuberant Generation X and Y parents soaking up the historic moment added experience and youth to the river of hope and joy that undulated down the length of the Mall. This should make every American incredibly proud, that we have slogged through centuries of racism and sexism and now reached a place where a black woman sings the national anthem, a gay Cuban delivers the inaugural poem, a Latina Supreme Court justice presides over the oath of office to the Vice President, and an African-American man takes the presidential oath for not the first time, but the second.
We have entered an era of tolerance and appreciation for those who have been marginalized in the course of this country’s history. This is inspiring and makes me incredibly proud of the country and our democracy. Americans chose tolerance and unity over a monoculture that supports the powerful. And that alone is reason to celebrate.