Yes, Even You Can Be Inspired By Today's Inauguration
Updated: Apr 27, 2021
Watching the Inauguration today, I was not necessarily feeling instant relief or elation. I was definitely reflective, but also seeking a deeper meaning to the sequence of events that I was witnessing, in the midst of hearing all of the commentary uplifting our newly elected president to almost savior-like status. I am not personally looking to be saved, but do understand the general sentiment after the last four years of chaos. As I watched all of the pomp and circumstance, I started to allow my spirit and mind to make connections to things that perhaps my eyes initially had trouble receiving. I was able to lay my cynicism to the side and realize that in the midst of those black folded chairs, masked faces, and an excessive amount of flags, there was an abundance of inspiration sitting in those seats. I instantly understood that regardless of your party affiliation, race, gender, or in spite of your general political malaise, that group of people cloaked in an array of expensive colorful coats, represented possibility, and hope in a way that many people may fail to realize.
We witnessed Kamala Harris being sworn in as the first woman Vice President, by Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor, the first Latinx member of the Supreme Court. Kamala Harris, the first Black Vice President. The first South-Asian Vice President. But that was after she was the first Black woman Senator elected to represent the state of California. After she was the first Black woman District Attorney elected in the same state, that is made up of only 5.8% Black people. Let’s not forget that she earned her undergraduate degree from a historically Black college and is a member of the first Black Sorority, Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority incorporated, founded in 1908. And not that it is essential to her existence, but she also got married for the first time just before turning 50!
Hillary Clinton was also present. Although she ran and lost her presidential bid, she is an accomplished attorney who served as a Senator and the United States Secretary of State. Her accomplishments extend beyond just being married to former president Bill Clinton, who was born to a single mother and partially raised by his grandparents before growing into the man who would become the 42nd president.
Sitting adjacent to them were President Barack and Michelle Obama whose very existence challenged stereotypes on a regular basis. Two happily married former attorneys. One raised by a single White mother and White grandparents, while the other grew up in a dual Black parent middle class household. They both attended Ivy League institutions, and their entire White House experience was somewhere in between our ancestors' wildest dreams and a grim reality that it took 42 White Presidents to get to the first Black one.
And there they all were. Bearing witness to Joe Biden becoming the 46th President of the United States at 78 years old. A man who as a child had a stutter. A man who was first elected to the senate at age 30 and was re-elected six times. A man who lost his first wife and daughter in an automobile accident, but did not give up on the possibility of love, and ended up marrying Dr. Jill Biden, who has her doctorate in education.
The highlight of the entire day for me, was Amanda Gorman, the daughter of a single mother, who too, overcame a speech impediment, and at 23 years old was the youngest poet in history to deliver the Inaugural poem. She was the first person to be named National Youth Poet Laureate and is a graduate of Harvard University. Her poem “The Hill We Climb” did not shy away from the truth as she did not water down her interpretation of the climate of the country, despite her age. At just 23 she follows the likes of Robert Frost and Maya Angelou.
After all of the speeches, songs and prayers, I walked away from the Inauguration with the renewed awareness that there is no such thing as too late. Or too early. Too young or too old. You can do great things as a woman. As a Black person. As a member of the LBGTQ community. As a single person. A married person. A sexual assault survivor. A child of immigrants. A person with a disability. You can go to Howard University, or Yale, or Harvard, even the University of Delaware. You can be a lawyer or doctor of education or a poet, and any of those roads can lead you to the White House. But more importantly, even if they don’t, they are possible accomplishments for you, and me, if we choose them and set our hearts on achieving them, regardless of the limitations that are placed upon us by systems of oppression and superficial definitions, designed to keep us boxed in, out of fear that we will actually become the best embodiment of our desires. As a person who likes to stay grounded in reality, this isn’t some empty attempt to convince you that you can be all you dream, but these facts hopefully will encourage us all at the very least, to stop limiting ourselves based on fear and lack of inspiration because it was there on that stage, masks and all, for all of us to witness.
© Evangeline M. Lawson January 20, 2021