We are One Concert Inclusive, Not Exclusive

January 18, 2009

Pete Seeger and Bruce Springsteen Sing This Land is Your Land at the We are One Concert in Washington, DC During Barack Obama Inaugural FestivitiesA crowd estimated at perhaps 400,000 celebrated this afternoon in front of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC, as the “We are One” concert kicking off president-elect Barack Obama’s inaugural festivities began. Although skies were overcast and the temperature hovered around 35 degrees, no one minded. Performers donated their time and HBO made the concert available nationwide for free. It was hard to tell who was more inspiring: Bruce Springsteen performing “The Rising;” U2 and Bono’s “In the Name of Love” and “City of Blinding Lights;” will.i.am’s “One Love;” or Stevie Wonder, Shakira and Usher’s “Higher Ground.” But perhaps the most inspiring appearance was that of Pete Seeger, who turns 90 this year. Accompanied by fan Bruce Springsteen, they sang “This Land is Your Land.”

Pete Seeger Performing for First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt in 1944

Seeger’s social activism roots run deep, and he was blacklisted in the 1950s during the McCarthy Era. Here he is singing in Washington, DC in February 1944 – 63 years ago. First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt is seated in the center.

President-elect Obama spoke near the end of the concert, saying: “What gives me the greatest hope of all is not the stone and marble that surrounds us today, but what fills the spaces in between. It is you, Americans of every race and region and station who came here because you believe in what this country can be and because you want to help us get there. . .And as I prepare to assume the presidency, yours are the voices I will take with me every day I walk into that Oval Office.”

President-Elect Barack Obama Speaking at the Lincoln Memorial During the We are One Concert in Washington, DC During Inaugural Festivities

It was a concert with a message about inclusivity, not exclusivity. The last words heard at the concert were those of singer Beyoncé, who said: “We won, America. We won.” Yes, we did.

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Photo credit: Entertainment Weekly, Doug Mills / The New York Times and Joseph A. Home

Copyright © 2009 pajamadeen.com

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