Connect to share and comment

Richard Blanco, first Hispanic, gay poet to recite at inauguration (VIDEO)

Richard Blanco was the first Hispanic and first gay poet to recite poems at inauguration, while Myrlie Evers-Williams was the first woman to deliver the inaugural prayer.

Richard blanco first hispanic gay poet inauguralEnlarge
Poet Richard Blanco speaks at the podium at the U.S. Capitol building as Washington prepares for U.S. President Barack Obama's second inauguration on January 20, 2013 in Washington, DC. Both Obama and Vice President Joe Biden were officially sworn in today with a public ceremony for the President taking place on January 21. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images) (Justin Sullivan/AFP/Getty Images)

Though this was President Barack Obama's second inaugural ceremony, it included a few historic firsts.

Richard Blanco, a Cuban-American poet, became the youngest poet to recite a poem at a presidential inauguration, according to the Associated Press.

Blanco, the son of immigrant parents, is also the first Hispanic and first openly gay poet to fulfill this role.

As the Miami Herald noted, Blanco joins an exclusive group of only five poets who have recited poems at a presidential inauguration, including the likes of Robert Frost, Maya Angelou, William Miller and Elizabeth Alexander.

Blanco recited his poem "One Today," at the inauguration. Below is an excerpt, from the full poem, published by The Los Angeles Times:

One sun rose on us today, kindled over our shores,
peeking over the Smokies, greeting the faces
of the Great Lakes, spreading a simple truth
across the Great Plains, then charging across the Rockies.
One light, waking up rooftops, under each one, a story
told by our silent gestures moving behind windows.

My face, your face, millions of faces in morning’s mirrors,
each one yawning to life, crescendoing into our day:
pencil-yellow school buses, the rhythm of traffic lights,
fruit stands: apples, limes, and oranges arrayed like rainbows
begging our praise. Silver trucks heavy with oil or paper -- bricks or milk, teeming over highways alongside us,
on our way to clean tables, read ledgers, or save lives -- to teach geometry, or ring up groceries as my mother did
for twenty years, so I could write this poem.

Watch Blanco's poetry recital, via ABC News:

 

Another first was marked by civil rights leader Myrlie Evers-Williams, the first woman to deliver the inaugural invocation. Evers-Williams, 80, is the widow of civil rights activist Medgar Evers and served as the chair of the NAACP from 1995 to 1998, according to Biography.

During her invocation, she said, "We thank you for this opportunity of prayer to strength us for the journey through the days that lie ahead."

Speaking of the Civil War and the civil rights movement, Evers-Williams said, "150 years after the Emancipation Proclamation and 50 years after the march on Washington, we celebrate the spirit of our ancestors," according to Politico.

"We recognized that their visions still inspire us," she said, referring to the previous generations. "We ask for your guidance towards the light of deliverance."

Watch Evers-Williams' invocation, via ABC News:

Yet another first was set by Justice Sonia Sotomayor, who became the first Latina jurist to administer the oath of office when she swore Vice President Joe Biden into office. 

CNN noted that Biden played an instrumental role in the vetting and selection of Sotomayor for the high court.

"I was thinking just a couple of days ago, if I think back when I was a kid which of the two would seem more improbable to me I realized each one was so far fetched that I couldn't have imagine either," said Sotomayor on Friday, adding that her role during the inauguration felt "surreal."

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/americas/united-states/130121/richard-blanco-first-hispanic-gay-poet-recite-at