A few minutes ago, I had the privilege of watching Barack Obama become the forty-fourth President of the United States. It has already been a day, not yet over, that I will never forget.
Hundreds of thousands of us stood shoulder to shoulder looking toward the west front of the U.S. Capitol — the most famous view in American political life --to see President Obama place his hand on Abraham Lincoln’s Bible and swear that he will preserve, protect, and defend our country’s highest principles.
Back home in St. Louis, and in cities across the country, tens of millions of other people paused in their day to hear our new president ask us to join him at the start of a new era. Inheriting two wars and a recession that has already wiped out millions of jobs, the new American President offered us hope — and a way forward.
The real change isn’t him, it’s us.
It is a message that stirred the crowd at the Capitol. It is a message that should inspire St. Louis.
It is now abundantly clear that Americans have elected a president who is comfortable speaking about race, about the history — and the continuing reality — of injustice. And it is very clear that St. Louisans (and Atlantans, Chicagoans, Philadelphians, and Detroiters) — have finally elected a president who understands important things about raising families in cities.
President Obama believes, as do I, that spending money to cover the bad practices of big corporations and big financial institutions while turning a blind eye to American families is wrong. President Obama has promised an economic package aimed at creating long-term economic growth. That means new, substantial federal investment to create jobs in small businesses along Dr. Martin Luther King Boulevard; useful job training for Hyde Park; better education at Sumner and Vashon; more investment in life science research at BJC; and affordable, safe and reliable transportation to get people to their jobs.
President Obama delivered a powerful message today: real change is in our hands.
He believes we can do it. So do I.