Moments before President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden put their hands on the Bible to take the oath of office, Republican Senator Lamar Alexander took the podium to introduce them by quoting Alex Haley, the author of Roots: The Saga of an American Family and co-author of The Autobiography of Malcolm X.
“Ladies and gentlemen, the late Alex Haley, the author of Roots, lived his life by these six words: find the good and praise it,” Mr. Alexander, the-chair of the inaugural committee, said. “Today we praise the American tradition of transforming, or reaffirming, immense power in the inauguration of the President of the United States. We do this in a peaceful, orderly way. There is no mob. No coup. No insurrection. This is a moment when millions stop and watch. A moment most of us always will remember. It is a moment that is our most conspicuous and enduring symbol of the American democracy. How remarkable that this has survived for so long in such a complex country when so much power is at stake. This freedom to vote for our leaders and the restraint to respect the results.”
New York’s own senator, Chuck Schumer, also addressed the crowd while praising the momentous nature of today’s event.
“This democracy of ours was forged by intellect and argument, by activism and blood, and above all–from John Adams to Elizabeth Cady Stanton to Martin Luther King–by a stubborn adherence that we are all created equally and we deserve nothing less than a great republic worthy of our consent,” he said.