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Posts tagged ‘inauguration’

Let’s be honest. None of us are Amanda Gorman. But your students should be.

Let’s be honest.

Very few of us are poets. Very few of us probably even read a lot of poetry.

That might change after this morning’s recitation by National Youth Poet Laureate Amanda Gorman at the 2021 Presidential Inauguration. Her poem titled “The Hill We Climb” resonated with a variety of themes from American history.

And hope. Read more

Lincoln, Taney and 2009

We all know that President Obama specifically asked for the Lincoln Bible to be usedobama during his swearing-in ceremony in January. But not until browsing through an old copy of Newsweek magazine was I reminded of the true historical significance of that little tidbit.

Okay, let’s walk through this. Lincoln was sworn in by then Supreme Court Chief Justice Roger Brooke Taney. The same Chief Justice who, four years earlier, in 1857 wrote the majority opinion in the Dred Scott v. Sandford court case.

Drift back to history class . . . this was the case that determined that Africans imported into the United States as slaves and their descendants – whether free or not – were not legal persons and so could never be US citizens. The court’s decision also said that Congress could not prohibit slavery in federal land. The case in which, among other things, Taney wrote that African Americans were

beings of an inferior order, and altogether unfit to associate with the white race, either in social or political relations, and so far inferior that they had no rights which the white man was bound to respect.


Lincoln’s resistance to the Dred Scott case was already very evident in 1858 during his debates with Stephen Douglas. And by his swearing-in ceremony in 1861, it had become clear that Taney and Lincoln were on opposite sides of the issue.

(Ask your kids what might have been going through the minds of those two during that ceremony and I will guarantee a powerful conversation.)

Now fast forward 148 years to January 20, 2009.

We’ve got an African American woman holding a bible last used at Lincoln’s first inauguration, who was sworn in by the author of the Dred Scott decision – a decision that clearly stated that she and her husband, also an African American, had no rights as people, let alone lincolnAmerican citizens. A decision that left absolutely no room for the woman’s husband to become President.

(Ask your kids another question – What would be going through Taney’s mind if he were the current Supreme Court justice?)

Lincoln’s thoughts on slavery and the rights of African Americans clearly evolved over time. But his efforts, along with those of thousands of others throughout our history, made Michelle Obama’s simple act of holding a bible not just a possibility but a reality.

Happy Birthday, Abe.

Inauguration tech goodies

Being the history junkie that I am, I spent most of yesterday flipping through cable channels, browsing online video sites, scanning transcripts of Obama’s speech, reading more about George Washington’s December 1776 quote, viewing updated images on Flickr, watching Youtube videos, messing with Google Earth and generally having a great time.

Came across a couple of cool tech things that you might be interested in:

  • CNN’s cool Photosynth technology that weaved together hundreds of user-created images into a 360 degree view of the actual moment of Obama’s oath. Very sweet but it only works with PCs.sat-image-stage-mashup
  • GeoEye and CNN took a satellite image of the event which can be found at GeoEye and Google Maps. Google Maps give you the chance to view the image layered in Google Earth. Together with the Google Sketchup model of the Capital building and the 3D Buildings layer in Google Earth, your kids can get a very real sense of the event.
  • put together a Google Earth Street View tour of the Inauguration Parade route with useful directions and links.
  • Flickr has started an Inauguration 2009 image pool that has a vast bank of pics.
  • A quick search of Youtube suggests tons of videos. (Be sure to also click the Channels and Playlists tabs for more content.)
  • The Washington Post has created a geotagged page called TimeSpace with user-created content that has some nice images.

But after all my messing around, I never found an answer to a question my son had about presidential succession. So . . . a question for all of the presidential  experts.

A TV commentator mentioned that because the ceremony was running behind schedule and Obama had not yet been sworn in, Joe Biden was actually the president for the time between his swearing in and Obama’s. He said that Bush’s term ended at 12:00 pm and so Biden was it till Obama took the oath. Urban legend?

Inauguration 2009 – “we choose hope over fear”

I spent the morning at Bethel College in Newton, Kansas, watching the inauguration on a very large screen in an auditorium on campus.

Watching the pre-inaugural activities, I was a little lost for words. Others, not so much. When asked for her feelings about the day, Cicely Tyson said:

“I couldn’t be more gloriously wonderful!”


crowd1I’m just stunned by the numbers of people who are present in Washington. The scene from on top of the Capital Building looking east across the Mall is amazing. Flags waving, babies, small children, black, white, old, young. Wow!

One of CBS’s talking heads:

“The star of the show is the wide shot.”

I agree. The pictures of the crowd are so emblematic of the United States, of democracy, of the change in culture.

What stood out for me?swearing-in

The time has come to reaffirm our enduring spirit; to choose our better history; to carry forward that precious gift, that noble idea, passed on from generation to generation: the God-given promise that all are equal, all are free, and all deserve a chance to pursue their full measure of happiness.

We know that our patchwork heritage is a strength, not a weakness.

We gather because we have chosen hope over fear, unity of purpose over conflict and discord.

I also liked Obama’s use of George Washington’s December 1776 quote:

“Let it be told to the future world … that in the depth of winter, when nothing but hope and virtue could survive… that the city and the country, alarmed at one common danger, came forth to meet it.”

An amazing day.

Obama Inauguration – old and new

Many have spoken about how President Obama will use Web 2.0 tools to connect more easily with US citizens. You can begin to see this transition over time by looking at the web site.






Inauguration 2009 resources

Need some 2009 Presidential Inauguration lesson plans and resources? Look no further!

Update – Wednesday  January 14

Lisa Nielsen over at Innovative Educators has posted some more great stuff! She’s got more details on her site (yes . . . this is when you head on over there) but I’ve grabbed just a few clips below from her stuff.

The New York City Department of Education has put together a fantastic 18-page compilation of activities and resources you can use on Inauguration Day (January 20) by clicking here.

Streaming on the Internet
Major news web sites will offer live streaming video and audio of the ceremony. Visit your favorite TV Network or Cable station for details. Here are a few links to sites that will carry the broadcast streamed via the internet.

  • C-SPAN main streaming page.
  • CNN Live page.
  • New York Times will be streaming the inauguration live.
  • Inaugural Senate site will be live streaming the event.
  • LINK-live Inaugural Gala uses digital technologies to bring Americans together to participate in conversations through video feeds, Flickr streams, liveblogs and more. Note: Content from the inauguration ceremony will not be available until after the ceremony has concluded. Great for follow up activities.