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January 21, 2009

By Rady Ananda

Civil rights icon and gay pastor, Rev. Joseph Lowery delivered this Inaugural Prayer yesterday:

Where Yellow is mellow and Brown stays around, where Red gets ahead and White gets it right.

We ask You to help us work for that day when Black will not be asked to give back; when Brown can stick around; when Yellow will be mellow; when the Red man can get ahead, man; and when White will embrace what is right.  Let all those who love justice and do mercy say ‘Amen.’

 [youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7pEH37JIgBU&hl=en&fs=1&%5D

Poet Elizabeth Alexander, Bridging A Nation’s Past, Present And Future WaPo: Alexander is a distinguished American poet, a Pulitzer Prize finalist, a Yale professor, an Obama friend. Who better to take up the task of capturing the uncapturable in words? In the end, Alexander merged her words theme with the hopeful new start an inauguration represents.

Only three other poets have read at presidential inaugurations: Maya Angelou and Miller Williams, who read at Bill Clinton‘s two, and Robert Frost, who read at John F. Kennedy‘s. The services of American poet laureates, oddly enough, are not required on such occasions.

Say it plain, that many have died for this day. Sing the names of the dead who brought us here, who laid the train tracks, raised the bridges, picked the cotton and the lettuce, built brick by brick the glittering edifices they would then keep clean and work inside of.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nH6fC3W3YvA&hl=en&fs=1&%5D

Elizabeth Alexander’s Inaugural Poem

Praise song for the day.

Each day we go about our business, walking past each other, catching each other’s eyes — or not — about to speak or speaking. All about us is noise. All about us is noise and bramble, thorn and din, each one of our ancestors on our tongues.

Someone is stitching up a hem, darning a hole in a uniform, patching a tire, repairing the things in need of repair. Someone is trying to make music somewhere with a pair of wooden spoons on an oil drum, with cello, boom box, harmonica, voice.

A woman and her son wait for the bus. A farmer considers the changing sky. A teacher says, “Take out your pencils. Begin.”

We encounter each other in words — words spiny or smooth, whispered or declaimed; words to consider, reconsider.

We cross dirt roads and highways that mark the will of someone and then others who said, “I need to see what’s on the other side. I know there’s something better down the road.”

We need to find a place where we are safe. We walk into that which we cannot yet see.

Say it plain, that many have died for this day. Sing the names of the dead who brought us here, who laid the train tracks, raised the bridges, picked the cotton and the lettuce, built brick by brick the glittering edifices they would then keep clean and work inside of.

Praise song for struggle. Praise song for the day. Praise song for every hand-lettered sign, the figuring it out at kitchen tables.

Some live by “love thy neighbor as thyself”; others by “first, do no harm” or “take no more than you need.” What if the mightiest word is “love” — love beyond marital, filial, national; love that casts a widening pool of light; love with no need to preempt grievance?

In today’s sharp sparkle, this winter air, anything can be made, any sentence begun. On the brink, on the brim, on the cusp, praise song for walking forward in that light.

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