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Thank you, Richard Blanco

January 22, 2013

The overwhelming tenor of the inauguration today was that our national history is, and has always been, one of progressively realizing civil and human rights. When President Barack Hussein Obama’s full speech referenced “Seneca Falls, Selma and Stonewall” rather than a series of battlefields, I rose to my feet.

America is a promise, a “constellation that must be mapped.” It is not an achievement of our past that can be defended with arms, or mourned as something lost. It is a task for every generation. It is the responsibility not only of leaders and legislatures, but of citizens realizing common goods.


As I listened to poet Richard Blanco, the first hispanic (Cuban-American) and openly gay poet to shape such an occasion, I thought of Walt Whitman, and Robert Pinksy, and the great host of America poet laureates. And I gave thanks for prophets, poets, visionaries.

I offer here a moment of silence, and a commitment to speech, in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. and Medgar Evers.

I link here the video of Richard Blanco’s inaugural poem, “One Today” so that you and I can return to it often. The text is also available, and I trust will soon be published.

All of us as vital as the one light we move through,
the same light on blackboards with lessons for the day:
equations to solve, history to question, or atoms imagined,
the “I have a dream” we keep dreaming,
or the impossible vocabulary of sorrow that won’t explain
the empty desks of twenty children marked absent
today, and forever. Many prayers, but one light
breathing color into stained glass windows,
life into the faces of bronze statues, warmth
onto the steps of our museums and park benches
as mothers watch children slide into the day.

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