This past Monday, Inauguration Day, I arrived at the White House for a breakfast with President Obama and twelve Silicon Valley leaders.
In his only Inaugural Address, President Kennedy issued his famous challenge: "Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country." In his second Inaugural, Barack Obama told anyone who accepted Kennedy's challenge exactly what they could "do."
To get to the mountaintop so stirringly glimpsed by Dr. King in his last days, he had to speak plainly about divisions, not shy away from pointing out disparities and not be afraid to disturb the status quo.
My daughter doesn't remember Rabbi Heschel or Dr. King, but she knows the story of liberation that we tell every year, And some day she will tell the story of being a small part of the second inauguration of President Obama to her children.
America gave its citizens the hope of opportunity through democracy, human rights and liberties. Muslims around the world want the same opportunities for themselves and their children that have benefitted President Obama.
In President Obama's inaugural address we heard perhaps the strongest argument for an activist government and the strongest evocation of progressive values from the president to date. It was a regenerative narrative that Americans needed to hear. And it needs our support.
On Monday morning, we watched history unfold before our very eyes. Unfortunately, by the time I arrived at the studio that evening, the temptation to be distracted from our mandate as Americans was already in full effect.
I suppose I shouldn't have been surprised when Republicans started complaining that President Obama's second inaugural address was too "partisan" and lacked "outreach" across the aisle. But who was left out? What did they find "partisan"?
That day, as in the inaugural address, the president gave pride of place in our country's story to victories won on the military battlefield and in the battle for equality. Placing Stonewall in that pantheon makes his historical narrative even more fully inclusive.
Many Democrats are celebrating the results of the last election as a reflection that the progressive viewpoint is where the majority of citizens want to go. This is foolhardy and creates a tremendous opportunity for Republicans.
Some African Americans felt "dissed" by the president's speech. The linkage of their civil rights struggle with that of LGBTQ Americans did nothing to quell their dislike of the comparison. For them, the fact that it was spoken by this president made it sting more.
President Obama's second inaugural speech, like his first, soared on rhetorical wings, leaving the rest of us far below, gaping up -- and that's a problem for the president, because eventually, reality will crap in our upturned faces.
When President Obama invoked the name of Stonewall before millions watching and listening throughout the planet, chills radiated down my spine, and I felt the excitement that comes with the prospect of righting a wrong.
A post-racial society is more like a continuous improvement process that requires incremental improvements over time rather than a "breakthrough" improvement that happens all at once as the result of a black American as president.
Billed as the most accessible Presidential Inauguration ever by organizers, attending the swearing-in ceremony was a mixed bag for people with disabilities.
Richard Blanco was the perfect choice for inaugural poet, embodying the rich kaleidoscope of our nation's people. He was conceived in Cuba, born in Spain, and came to the U.S. when he was two months old. Like Obama, he grew up negotiating different identities. And like the president, he loves his country.