January 20, 2009

Reflecting on Obama's Inauguration

Last weekend I was in Philadelphia at the National Constitution Center for a conference and stood in the auditorium where Obama delivered his famous speech on race. I thought that the auditorium didn't do him justice—it was small and ordinary looking, lacking the grandeur of his speech. However, someone pointed out to me that while the auditorium looked inconspicuous it was actually an example of magnificent architecture. Everything from the walls to the number and placement of seats is designed to enhance the quality of sound in addition to overall comfort. Everything in that room was deliberate and well coordinated.

When I learned this information I realized how perfect that space was for Obama. The intimacy of the space reflects his desire to build a stronger, closer country while the architecture reflects the effort and coordination necessary to sustain and enhance a strong country. And the Constitution Center, while honoring the past is most remarkable for its ability to connect the past with the present, celebrating how far we have come and acknowledging how much farther we need to go.

Obama's greatest contribution to social change is his understanding that it is not a singular immediate act. It requires thought, dedication, and an understanding of the past and present to create a place that delivers the greatest good. Even more so it requires that people feel enough ownership of this country to even roll up their sleeves and get involved in the first place. And this feeling of ownership—that he is my president and that this is my country—will be validated on his inauguration.

From my usage of social media to actually punching the ticket, he is truly my president. During the election I was challenged for my support and forced to think carefully about my political decisions making my support of him and this country even stronger. In his speech after winning the election he asks that people who didn't vote for him still join him in making American stronger. We are marching into an era in which people feel invited to the table to discuss and bring about social change.

This post was written by Allison Jones, a development and communications professional in New York City and volunteer blogger with the Literacy 'n' Poverty Project. She is a writer, advocate, and educator focusing on empowering young people to change the world. Please leave your comments or email ajlovesya [at] gmail.com.

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