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Obama’s time

February 3, 2009

by Mumia Abu-Jamal

At the Jan. 20 inauguration of President Barack Hussein Obama, the “star that shone brightest was the People,” says Mumia, “by the millions. Faces beamed warmth and excitement, seemingly ignoring the frigid temperatures.” At least 1.8 million people came from across the country and across continents to see the first Black U.S. president. – Photo: Mario Tama, Getty Images
At the Jan. 20 inauguration of President Barack Hussein Obama, the “star that shone brightest was the People,” says Mumia, “by the millions. Faces beamed warmth and excitement, seemingly ignoring the frigid temperatures.” At least 1.8 million people came from across the country and across continents to see the first Black U.S. president. – Photo: Mario Tama, Getty Images
With poise and considerable grace, Barack Hussein Obama took the stage of history and tried to turn a mammoth page in the book of America’s national life.

With an air of seriousness and exuding confidence, he glided across the stage, shaking hands, giving hugs and kissing ladies. He seemed to particularly revel in shaking hands – and hugging! – the next to the last number of the exclusive club of 44, former president George W. Bush.

But if Barack Obama was the shining star to Bush’s fading star of this political moment, the other star that shone brightest was the People, who filled the streets in ways that seemed unprecedented – by the millions.

Faces beamed warmth and excitement, seemingly ignoring the frigid temperatures.

The new First Family beams as Barack Obama is sworn in as the 44th president of the United States. The swearing-in was later repeated because Chief Justice John Roberts flubbed one of the words. – Photo: Chuck Kennedy, Getty Images
The new First Family beams as Barack Obama is sworn in as the 44th president of the United States. The swearing-in was later repeated because Chief Justice John Roberts flubbed one of the words. – Photo: Chuck Kennedy, Getty Images
There was, as there ever is in political gatherings, pomp and circumstance, but popular good nature seemed to radiate from the people, who stood in the cold for hours to witness a history that few thought they would live to see: the installation of a man of discernible African heritage taking the helm of the ship of state.

If the nation beamed with excitement, the world drew an almost collective breath of relief at the sight not only of Obama’s inauguration, but the leaving of a man seen as the quintessential “ugly American.” While things will probably not change as drastically as some hope, and others fear, the transition from an administration seen as blusterers, saber-rattlers and fear-mongers to one at least capable of projecting competence and intelligence seems like a sea-change.

To paraphrase Shakespeare’s play “Macbeth,” of Bush’s departure from office, “Nothing so became him as leaving it.”

Has this change been more symbolic that substantive? This we shall surely see.

© Copyright 2009 Mumia Abu-Jamal. Read Mumia’s latest book, “We Want Freedom: A Life in the Black Panther Party,” winner of the 2005 People’s Choice Award, available from South End Press, www.southendpress.org or (800) 533-8478. Keep updated by reading Action Alerts at www.mumia.org and www.moveorg.net. To download mp3s of Mumia’s commentaries, visit www.prisonradio.org or www.fsrn.org. For recent interviews with Mumia, visit www.blockreportradio.com. Encourage the media to publish and broadcast Mumia’s commentaries and interviews to inspire progressive movement and help call attention to his case. Send our brotha some love and light at: Mumia Abu-Jamal, AM 8335, SCI-Greene, 175 Progress Dr., Waynesburg PA 15370.

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