Dispatches from the opening inaugural celebration at the Lincoln Memorial
And it is over. The Obamas and Bidens take to the stage to shake hands and hug performers.for
Beyonce is singing America the Beautiful. Makes me yearn for Ray Charles, who owns that song.
Pete Seeger was wonderful to behold.
Obama is on the stage!!! He’s thanking the speakers for reminding us through song and words just what it is we love about America. He’s thanking the crowds for coming and welcoming them to the celebration of America’s renewal.
My favorite quote: “And yet, as I stand here tonight, what gives me the greatest hope of all is not the stone and marble that surrounds us today, but what fills the spaces in between. It is you – Americans of every race and region and station who came here because you believe in what this country can be and because you want to help us get there.”
Challenger, an American bald eagle, is on stage.
Jackson made a smooth transition from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to U2, who are singing “Pride (In the Name of Love),” their tribute to the slain civil rights leader. Lead singer Bono brought a little politics to the stage when he said that Freedom wasn’t just an American dream, but also a European dream, an African dream, an Israeli dream — then he paused, and you knew what was coming — and a Palestinian dream.
Samuel L. Jackson is recounting the journey by Rosa Parks and how she was “just tired of giving in” when she refused to go the back of the bus.
Usher is singing Stevie Wonder, and since he’s on the program I feel a duet coming up. But Wonder’s not playing the piano. Wait, what’s Shakira doing out there? Where’s Stevie? Phew, here he is. Why bother get Usher and Shakira to sing when the legend is available? Why?
The president-elect is up and clapping.
Ashley Judd and Forest Whitaker are up now. There’s so much emotion in Judd’s voice that I think she’s going to tear up. Whittaker and Judd speak about artists, and Whitaker quotes William Faulkner.
Garth Brooks is rocking “American Pie,” one of my favorite songs. And the choir is back. And now he’s onto “Shout.” I’m thinking more “Animal House” than inauguration.
Bob Marley‘s “One Love.” There are a bunch of Jamaicans in the audience waving the black, gold and green.
Queen Latifah tells a tale about Marian Anderson.
John Mellencamp‘s “Pink Houses” takes me back and gets me — and a lot of the audience — singing along. Thanks, John.
Deborah Creighton Skinner is the editorial director of BlackEnterprise.com