Washington, DC — African-American inauguration goers Tuesday said they understood that their pride in the country’s first African-American president would need to be tempered by the many problems the Barack Obama administration would inherit.
“I think, personally, the problem has been well-known for us not to be over-expectant,” said Victor Coclough, 50, who watched the ceremony in the shadow of the Washington Monument. “We won’t let ourselves down if we don’t put too much expectation in what he can do.”
That message was echoed in Obama’s speech. The president urged Americans to recognize that “we have duties to ourselves, our nation and the world, duties that we do not grudgingly accept but rather seize gladly, firm in the knowledge that there is nothing so satisfying to the spirit, so defining of our character than giving our all to a difficult task.”
Obama spoke of hard choices needed to recover from past mistakes, and he told the crowd that the road wouldn’t be easy or immediate.
A bundled-up Dina Jones, 34, acknowledged that there were no instant solutions to complex issues.
“I think it is a mistake for us to put that pressure on him, because it’s not going to happen immediately,” Jones said. “I think it’s going to take quite a while to rebuild everything that has been torn down. So I think we just need to be patient and just let him work through the course of all the problems that we have to address.”
But what resonated most for Coclough was Obama’s call for a unified change across borders.
“It’s not really just he that’s going to make a change, it’s us,” Coclough said. “Us as a community, us as a people, us as a nation, us as the world.”