Today with the inauguration of President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and Vice President Kamala Harris, they did. Now, as inaugural poet Amanda Gorman said, “History has its eyes on us.”
This is the moment many have waited generations for. It is a turning point. Or not. “Are we going to step up? All of us?” asked the 46th President. “Will we meet our obligations?”
Progress has begun. The first woman Vice President is now a reality. She is Black. She is Asian-American. She is the child of immigrants. She is what so many have longed to see. And, she encourages us to be “bold, fearless and ambitious.”
But will this moment meet the fullness of who we are as nation? Or will we acquiesce to the forces that shaped the insurrection of January 6th?
“It is not what is between us, but what is before us.” This is America’s moral dilemma, that Amanda Gorman’s inaugural poem so magnificently articulated.
This moment is greater than Vice President Harris, though it is eloquently symbolized by her. Rather, to quote David Brooks, this moment is “a gift from the African American Community.”
It is they who build the White House. It is they, from Martin Luther King, Jr. to Medgar Evers to John Lewis, who toiled for justice and too often died for the same. It is they, George Floyd and Breonna Taylor among them, whose brutal murders have underscored America’s systemic racism. It they, symbolized by Stacey Abrams and Angela Lang, who toiled in recent years to bring Black voters into the fullness of our democracy. It is they who made this day possible, in so many ways.
As we consider the challenges that history will remember, “Will we meet our obligations?”
Perhaps we can begin with “thank you” for the gift we have been given. And then, take our place beside our American sisters and brothers – Black, Brown and White; native and immigrant; Muslim, Jew, Christian and atheist; disable and able bodied; gay, straight, trans and bi; old and young, Republican and Democrat – and get to work meeting those obligations.