Some people who would have loved to see this day: Mom and her brothers, all of them. South Side Irish, acutely aware that there was something wrong in the racial situation around them and all determined to a greater or lesser extent to do something about it. Bill — Bill Hogan — gave his life to the cause, Mom found a purpose in the civil rights struggle at moments when her own life was nearly unbearably difficult, and the rest gave what they could. They would be thrilled today. And one other person I'm thinking about: my mentor and our old family friend Max McCrohon. He would have loved this, too.
Dueling ministers: Rick Warren, the Southern California evangelical who gave the inaugural invocation, cut right to the heart of what makes my skin crawl about conservative Christians. His first words: "Almighty God, our father, everything we see and everything we can’t see exists because of you alone." I guess if you're in the god business, that's the position you've got to take. And Warren himself, may the fairy sprites and trickster spirits of the world bless him, talks about the need to build bridges rather than walls with faith. But this particular brand of straight-laced "our way is The Way" preaching, this sort of Christian certainty, bespeaks an openness that's only open as long as you embrace it. Much more to my taste was the Rev. Joseph Lowery's benediction, which began with lyrics from the hymn "Lift Every Voice and Sing" [not "Lift Every Voice and Thing," as I earlier wrote] and ended:
"Lord, in the memory of all the saints who from their labors rest, and in the joy of a new beginning, we ask you to help us work for that day when black will not be asked to get in back, when brown can stick around, when yellow will be mellow, when the red man can get ahead, man; and when white will embrace what is right. That all those who do justice and love mercy say Amen. Say Amen. And Amen."
More later, maybe.