Why President Obama’s Second Inauguration Means So Much

It is momentous that on this day, during the inaugural celebration of the nation’s first black president, we celebrate civic service, volunteerism and the life, legacy and dream of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. This occasion is important for African Americans especially, and as this is the second inauguration of President Obama, it is even more significant. But why does it mean so much to us?

Because President Obama’s first inauguration could have been his last.

In 2009, our hearts were full of hope and change; indeed, pride was pouring out of us. It was the dawn of a new day. After the pomp and circumstance, reality set in and the attacks against our first African-American president began. There was a concerted effort by many to make President Obama a one-term president. A hostile environment unlike anything we’d ever seen surfaced; fingers were thrown in his face, he was called a liar and portrayed as un-American.  Still, our President remained cool, calm and collected.

Because the fact that he is the President and a black man holds significant meaning for African-Americans.

Seeing a black man running the country, seeing his black wife and his black daughters at The White House means something because they look like us in a place and in a position we’ve never been. Noted columnist, author and host of her self-named show on MSNBC, Dr. Melissa Harris-Perry impeccably explained why President Obama is so important to us during a lecture at the Walter H. Caffs Center at UC Santa Barbara in December 2011:

 “I need my white liberal allies and friends to understand that Barack Obama means something to us in a way  – not that he’s perfect – when we see a black body embodying the American state and particularly a body that didn’t have to be black – it means something to us. It actually means something and it is okay for it to mean something. We do not have to prove that we voted for him for reasons other than his blackness. We vote for white people all the time…. When he drags that left foot a little, it means something and…..  How we feel actually matters.”

Because Barack and Michelle Obama support the troops and their families.

Our nation has been at war for more than a decade. Many service members are on their sixth or seventh deployment. Sixteen percent of military personnel are African American (Department of Defense, US Census Bureau). These service members are attached to families in our communities, but 95 percent of military families say that “the general public does not truly understand or appreciate the sacrifices made by service members and their families” (   First Lady Michelle Obama understands and responded with Joining Forces, an initiative to engage communities to help give service members and their families the support they have earned.

On this historic occasion and beyond, we should practice civility and compassion by giving back to all of our communities in tangible ways. In doing so, we honor our heritage and the legacies of both Dr. King and President Obama.

7 thoughts on “Why President Obama’s Second Inauguration Means So Much

  1. I couldn’t of said it better. President Obama’s second inauguration means that his election the first time wasn’t just a fluke. It means that we are moving toward a multi-cultural society of acceptance and away from the America that the right called themselves, “… trying to take back.”

  2. It is critical that we take this entire process and moment to heart and for the many reasons stated by Ms. Eggleston. Yes, our President is Black (African American) and yes, he is the/OUR first and WE are profoundly proud of this historical moment. However, and additionally there is a divinity, a providential, momentous significance to it all. God had a plan before time began. This was destined for President Obama, his family, for the United States and even for US(African Americans). In part, I see this as a form of reparation (s).

    Yes, he had to campaign terribly hard, be diligent and vigilant in the process of getting here. Yes, we had to cast our votes. BUT GOD, was and still is in this process, this journey and this endeavor of our country to be better, different and even healed; wrongs righted and some losses turned into victories for ALL.

    President Obama did just what Ms. Eggleston implores us to do. He set the stage four and even eight plus years ago (as Illinois State Senator 1997-2004) and followed it up with an encore presentation on Monday January 21, 2013 with dignity, grace, elegance, diversity and style. It does not hurt that he is handsome, that is wife is fly and that his daughters are beautiful and just “good people”.

    This tangible innergy is ever palpable and resonates and permeates throughout their everyday lives(that which we can see) and it carries over into the service that they provide to us as ambassadors of our country.

    Yes, we should celebrate what we are becoming as a nation; as well we celebrate and commend our Commander in Chief for his example of service from and too grassroots, his black and white roots, to all who dare to see that he is not just a Black Man in the White House. He is the RIGHT Man in the White House.


    1. Indeed, Dr. Grison, he is not just a Black Man in the White House. The vibrant energy surrounding this occasion was evident. Thanks for your kind and thoughtful words.

  3. As an immigrant from Kenya I am an African American in every sense of the word and could not be more proud. The second inauguration meant much more to me because this time around I was eligible to vote as a citizen and was happy to cast my first vote ever, for Barack in 2012.This second inauguration means a lot to me because eight year old son and six year old daughter can identify with a President who looks like them.

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