Right here, right now, watching the world wake up from history.
-Jesus Jones, “Right here”
Forty-five years ago Martin Luther King, Jr. stood on the mall in Washington, D.C. and told America about his dream. My mother lived in D.C. at the time. She was there. She felt the change. She lived through much of modern history. Growing up she taught us kids that everyone was equal, racism is disgusting and wrong (in all forms), and to love and respect our neighbor. Because of who she was, because of what she taught me, I am a social worker seeking to create social justice and humane social policy. I wish she could have been here today.
Because today we swore into office America’s first African-American President. Part of Dr. King’s dream was fulfilled today. We have much work to do. There are still people who want to separate others and put them in marked boxes with their race, social-class, gender, and religion on the outside. They don’t understand that we are more alike than we are different. Roosevelt said we have nothing to fear, but fear itself. Now is the time we need to unite as a nation and say “no more.” We are better than that. We are all AMERICANS, despite our different accents, religions, customs, culture, races, socio-economic status, and political ideologies. We all deserve to have a better America for ourselves and for it’s future citizens. What will be our legacy?
We gather because we have chosen hope over fear, unity of purpose over conflict and discord. On this day we come to declare an end to the petty grievances and false promises, the recriminations and worn-out dogmas that for far too long have strangled our politics. We are a young nation, but in the words of scripture, the time has come to set aside childish things. The time has come to reaffirm our enduring spirit, to choose our better history, to carry forward that precious gift, that noble idea passed on from generation to generation, that God given promise all are equal, all are free, and all deserve a chance to pursue their full measure of their happiness.
-President Barack Obama’s Inauguration speech