Sunday, January 20, 2013

Lift every voice and sing ...

The Obamas --- and the rest of us --- are four years older now, but this remains perhaps the most hopeful image of my generation, for America at least. Imagine that --- and it happened.

Today's official swearing-in of both President Barack Obama and Vice-President Joe Biden --- on Jan. 20 because of constitutional mandates --- will be low-key. The public version, and the celebrating, will be tomorrow --- on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday. How about that?

The official inaugural program is more diverse than it's ever been. Myrlie Evers-Williams, activist and widow of slain civil rights leader Medgar Evers, will deliver the invocation --- the first layperson and the first woman to do so. Music will be by the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir, James Taylor, Kelly Clarkson and Beyonce. Poet Richard Blanco --- an immigrant, Latino-American and gay --- will present the inaugural poem. And what better choice for the benediction than an Episcopal priest --- The Rev. Luis Leon, also Latino-American and an immigrant (from Cuba)?

Yes, I know. No Native Americans, no Asian-Americans. Maybe in four more years (are you listening, Hillary?). And I'm sure there will be a fair number of cranky old white guys sitting out there grousing about this vibrant reflection of what America's all about.

This is my song for the day, however, sometimes known as the black national anthem, written during 1899 and 1900 by brothers James Walden Johnson (lyrics) and John Rosamond Johnson (music). Everyone who ever has been maginalized, then transcended it, has a stake in it.

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