Just the other day on social media I posted that Black people in America embody amazing grace. That thought came to the forefront of my mind when Lori Marie Key, a Black nurse, sang Amazing Grace at the national COVID remembrance. Even though a white slaver wrote Amazing Grace, no one sings it like Black people in America, no one embodies it like Black people in America.
On this Inauguration Day in America, I think of the poem, “On the Pulse of Morning,” Maya Angelou composed for William Jefferson Clinton’s inauguration on January 20, 1993. The poem talked of war and divisiveness, but also of hope for a new beginning of peace. Sixteen years later, Elizabeth Alexander composed a poem, “Praise Song for the Day,” for Barack Obama’s Presidential Inauguration. A verse in Alexander’s poem could very well be uplifted today for Joseph R. Biden Jr’s Inauguration:
I know there's something better down the road. We need to find a place where we are safe. We walk into that which we cannot see.
We have seen things in the past four years that we cannot unsee. When looking back on Trump’s tumultuous four years occupying the White House, let’s think of the words of Soren Kierkegaard, Danish philosopher and theologian: “Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.”
As we move forward, we know that perhaps the person leaving the White House, the Donald, is the most graceless person who has ever occupied the Oval Office. The person moving into the White House, Joe Biden, has demonstrated some amazing grace, even in choosing Kamala Harris as his running mate, who skewered him during one of the democratic debates.
If you haven’t seen the theme, note the roles played by four Black women on these three Inauguration Days mentioned above.