Obama Pushes Diversity and Unity in His Second Inauguration

4 years ago

Now there’s the President Barack Obama we remember! The President laid out an ambitious tone for his second term in his inauguration speech, inspiring hope for equality and unity in the nation. Obama’s 20-minute speech, while different than his 2009 inauguration speech, echoed many of the sentiments from the 2012 campaign trail, especially his keynote at the Democratic National Convention.

Jan. 21, 2013 - Washington, DC, USA - U.S. President Barack Obama takes the oath of office as his wife, Michelle, looks on at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., Monday, January 21, 2013. (Credit Image: © Mark Gail/MCT/ZUMAPRESS.com)

Gone was the somber, cautious Obama we’ve seen in recent months, and back is the idealistic young Senator from Illionois – although with a few more gray hairs. Perhaps the President was emboldened after last week's executive orders on gun control -- a topic he didn't emphasize today. Instead, the speech touted diversity, equality, and the ability of the American people to help themselves, if given the opportunity -– while at the same time highlighting the need for all Americans to work together, not as factions. Big cheers for mentions of the environmental protection, equal pay for women, gay rights, voting rights for all, welcoming immigrants. Some of his mentions were more subtle, such as the inclusion of Stonewall, New York – the site of a major gay rights demonstration in 1969 – along with Seneca Falls and Selma.

Jan. 21, 2013 - Washington, District Of Columbia, USA - President Barack Obama's daughters Malia Obama,left, and Sasha Obama arrive on the West Front of the Capitol in Washington, Monday, Jan. 21, 2013, for the Presidential Barack Obama's ceremonial swearing-in ceremony during the 57th Presidential Inauguration. (Credit Image: © Win Mcnamee/Pool/Prensa Internacional/ZUMAPRESS.com)

Of course, the President shared the stage with many other Democratic luminaries, including Vice President Joe Biden his family and former President Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton. The Obama women turned heads on their own. Sasha, Malia and Michelle, entered with Grandma Marion Robinson. The girls wore pink and purple cloth coats, reminiscent of the first inauguration, but looking taller and much more grown-up today. As we’ve come to expect from the First Lady, the family was dressed in American fashions, J. Crew and Thom Browne quickly became buzzwords on Internets, as the requisite Obama fashion reports rolled out.

Jan. 21, 2013 - Washington, DC, USA - Myrlie Evers-Williams gives the invocation during the inauguration ceremonies for President Obama's second term at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, DC on January 21, 2013. (Credit Image: © Mark Gail/MCT/ZUMAPRESS.com)

But the opening acts really stole the show, with a lineup that exemplified the inclusion diversity -- of gender, race and sexual orientation -- that was key to winning this second term. Myrlie Evers-Williams, widow of Civil Rights leader Medgar Evans and former head of the NAACP, became the first woman and first African-American to give an invocation at a presidential Inauguration, although she did make a minor flub, calling President Obama the 45th President (even though he was elected to a second term, he is still the 44th President).

The Brooklyn Tabernacle choir brought down the house with their rendition of "The Battle Hymn of the Republic", overshadowing superstars who would perform after them, such as James Taylor, Kelly Clarkson, and Beyonce.

Read the full text of President Obama's Inauguration speech.

Were you in Washington D.C. for today's event or did you watch from home? Tell us your thoughts in the comments!

News and Politics Editor Grace Hwang Lynch blogs at HapaMama and A Year (Almost) Without Shopping.

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