On the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation and the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.’s March on Washington, 44th President Barack Obama publicly took the oath of office on Monday for the second time; the oath was delivered by Chief Justice John Roberts in front of an estimated 800,000 people in Washington, D.C.
The inaugural ceremony began Monday morning with the arrivals of former presidents Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton, accompanied by their wives Rosalynn and outgoing Secretary of State Hillary, respectively; first lady Michelle Obama and daughters Malia and Sasha joined the stage, followed by Vice President Joe Biden and the president himself.
New York senator Chuck Schumer led the ceremony, which began with an invocation by Myrlie Evers-Williams; Evers-Williams’ late husband, Medgar Evers, was a prominent civil rights leader and NAACP field secretary in the 1960s.
Vice President Biden took the vice presidential oath from Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor and Chief Justice Roberts administered the presidential oath.
For the fifth time in inauguration history, the president chose to include an inaugural poet—this time, Richard Blanco filled the role.
He was the first Latino, immigrant, openly gay, and youngest person ever to do so.
The ceremony’s benediction was delivered by Reverend Luis Leon, and the national anthem was performed by Beyonce before the crowds dispersed to the inaugural parade route.
After taking the oath, the president delivered an inaugural address that discussed many of the major issues of today: climate change, gay rights, gender equality, immigration reform and gun violence, among others.
He spoke about the need for the nation to work together in order to accomplish the change necessary for the future of America and upon which the founding fathers intended for the country.
“My fellow Americans, we are made for this moment, and we will seize it,” said Obama. “So long as we seize it together.”
President Obama spoke to the inauguration’s theme of “Faith in America’s Future,” while reminding America of the day’s historic significance.
“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…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,” Obama said. “It is now our generation’s task to carry on what those pioneers began.”
Inauguration performances included the U.S. Marine Band, Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir, James Taylor, Kelly Clarkson and Beyonce.
Following the ceremony and official luncheon at the Capitol, President and Mrs. Obama and Vice President and Dr. Biden led the inaugural parade down Pennsylvania Ave. to the White House.