March 27th, 2009 – by Emily Benner
‘I can’t believe I’m here witnessing a great change in history.’ This quote was spoken from a woman behind me as Obama gave his inaugural address to millions before him. This quote is not the thought of one, it’s echoed in the minds and hearts of the millions packed in a confining mall on the 20th of January, a Tuesday. Although the full scope of Obama’s presidency will take years, even decades into the future to comprehend, there seemed to be a dignified solidarity among many Americans and people around the world, all hoping for change.
Growing up in a generation where the gap between negatively recognizing people’s differences, such as the color of their skin, is coming to a close. Maybe I’m naïve; this could be my optimistic personality seeping through, however I’m recognizing that my generation and those younger than me seem to appreciate what makes each person unique. Rather than judging based on religious orientation, race, or gender, people are drawing conclusions based on others characteristics. Clearly nominating and electing an African American President never crossed the minds of my parents or grandparents generation. A shift, or change if one will, is beginning to take place where the Emancipation Proclamation is finally being fulfilled.
Obama too identifies this change. In his inaugural address, Obama commented on how the world is changing and we need to change with it. This I believe on all levels; everyday brings about new challenges and room for growth.
As I reflect on my experience in the bitter cold, waiting nine hours to hear the swearing in of the first African American President, my mind begins to imagine the future. What other milestones in history will I get the change to witness?
Most importantly, I’m glad that I can forever say I witnessed the swearing in of the first African American President. As I hope for change, for world peace, and world citizenship, I still question how much I’m willing to change.