WE, THE PEOPLE—President Barack Obama waves to the crowd after his inaugural speech at the ceremonial swearing-in on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol during the 57th Presidential Inauguration in Washington, D.C., Monday, Jan. 21. (AP Photo/Scott Andrews, Pool)
by Bankole Thompson
For New Pittsburgh Courier
(RTNS)—Exactly 150 years after the Emancipation Proclamation, and on the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and 50 years after the March on Washington, President Barack Obama delivered a progressive and stunning speech centered around the notion of equality on the steps of the U.S. Capitol before thousands.
Naming each of the turning points of watershed moments in American history and emphasizing repeatedly the Declaration of Independence that “it is self evident that all men are created equal,” Obama challenged the nation to be more forward thinking in his historic inaugural speech after his reelection.
Specifically addressing voting rights, women’s rights, gay and lesbian rights, immigration reform, health care reform and global climate change, and mentioning Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Obama’s remarks reached out to both Democrats and Republicans alike to seize this moment together.
“Today we continue a never-ending journey to bridge the meaning of those words with the realities of our time. For history tells us that while these truths may be self-evident, they’ve never been self-executing; that while freedom is a gift from God, it must be secured by His people here on Earth,” Obama said. “The patriots of 1776 did not fight to replace the tyranny of a king with the privileges of a few or the rule of a mob. They gave to us a Republic, a government of, and by, and for the people, entrusting each generation to keep safe our founding creed.”
Obama said through blood drawn by lash and blood drawn by sword, “We learned that no union founded on the principles of liberty and equality could survive half-slave and half-free. We made ourselves anew, and vowed to move forward together.”
“Together, we discovered that a free market only thrives when there are rules to ensure competition and fair play,” Obama said. “Together, we resolved that a great nation must care for the vulnerable, and protect its people from life’s worst hazards and misfortune.”
Reminding the nation of the battles that were fought for the dignity of every person Obama put it bluntly, “We, the people, declare today that the most evident of truths—that all of us are created equal—is the star that guides us still; just as it guided our forebears through Seneca Falls, and Selma, and Stonewall; just as it guided all those men and women, sung and unsung, who left footprints along this great Mall, to hear a preacher say that we cannot walk alone; to hear a King proclaim that our individual freedom is inextricably bound to the freedom of every soul on Earth.”
With rhetorical ingenuity Obama anchored his speech on the theme of the 57th inaugural celebration “Faith in America’s Future.”