January 19, 2009

MLK Day and the Inauguration



Yesterday, I allowed my toes to basically freeze so I could stand by the Reflecting Pool on the National Mall watching the Inaugural Concert. It was my first time in an audience for the real live Barack Obama. The Reflecting Pool stretches in front of the Lincoln Memorial where MLK gave his "I have a dream" speech, arguably the most famous and quoted speech in American history. And finally history has caught up. I cannot even believe I am living in this amazing time and place. This week is such a validation for anyone who believes not only in civil - and human- rights, but the notion that intelligence, empathy and calmness are virtues that define America as much as any other place on Earth. Here is a better explanation of why I am so elated this week:
Obama’s election has the additional virtue of being a good deed in itself—that is, last Tuesday, we spectacularly narrowed the distance between American ideals and American reality. We acted true to the original Puritan vision of America “as a City upon a hill,” as opposed to the self-satisfied, we’re-Number-One-no-matter-what revisionism of the last few decades.

Even before he takes office, there is one large, low-hanging fruit that Obama is harvesting already: The rebranding of America in the rest of the world is under way. Intolerant, ignorant, bellicose cowboy-America is suddenly … not. And thanks to overwhelmingly white America, as Tunku Varadarajan wrote on Forbes.com, “a black man will be the most powerful person on earth” and “the most powerful black man in the history of mankind.” Also? His father was actually African. Foreigners are even more astonished than we are.

But the election happily overturned another set of conventional wisdoms that were not specifically racial: Reason and intelligence made a comeback against the heretofore ascendant forces of the idiocracy. For the moment, America is reality-based once again.

- Obamaism, New York Magazine, Kurt Andersen, November 9, 2008

There is a prevailing mood in DC this weekend of shock and awe, to hijack a Bush term. No one can quite believe this is happening. I keep thinking of all the civil rights leaders who did not live to see this, but were driven by the belief that would happen. Surely they can see it now! I will try and comment on my next "mixtape" about the concert performances, but one surprise for me was Josh Groban and Heather Headley back by the... Gay Men's Chorus of DC!

photo from DCist. That's about where I stood.

3 comments:

Paul said...

how thrilling to actually be there and witness a little bit of history in the making. I have only been to DC once and rumour has it, darren and I may be correcting that later this year. Hope your toes have warmed up!

will said...

Lucky!! Well worth the freeze, if you ask me!! :')

babs said...

Wishing you yummy cocoa. :). Like Burdick's in Boston, I think, and others.