The historic swear-in of Barack Obama as America’s first black president took place in front of a million witnesses in Washington DC on Tuesday, marking hope and excitement for many.
“This is a historical event, and I am so excited to get the first African-American president,” said Leandra Casson, a professor at Delaware State University. “We know he’s intelligent and qualified, and all the things that we are going through, in terms of the economic situation, we need a man who is intelligent, a man that listens to reason.”
She compared Obama to the civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr., calling him “a unifier, not a polarizer, [such as] we had these past eight years.”
“He actually brings groups together,” she said, noting that “all kinds of people” were walking together at the inauguration, singing “God Bless America.”
Michael Lorenzo, an African-American from Pennsylvania, said he hoped Obama would restore the US reputation abroad.
“Through conversation, diplomacy instead of dictatorship,” he said.
Ed Udom, from Kentucky, said he had come to participate in the historic event directly, but he cautioned that Obama had a lot of problems to solve, “among those the economy, health care, education.”
These were among nearly 2 million people who came to the capital, facing harsh weather and temperatures below freezing.
Obama promised the nation he would make the economy move, work with poor nations of the world, and appeal to all Americans to choose hope over fear.
“Starting today,” he said, “we must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off and begin again the work of remaking America.”