Monday, January 21, 2013

Seneca Falls, and Selma, and Stonewall

President Barack Obama, at his inauguration ceremony today, invoked the progress that's been made in the United States of America since its founding. He specifically traced social progress inspired by "Seneca Falls, and Selma, and Stonewall." This is not the first time he's done this, but today it was expressed to a much larger global audience. He had earlier noted at Barnard College on May 14, 2012: "That's how we achieved women's rights, that's how we achieved voting rights, that's how we achieved workers' rights, that's how we achieved gay rights, that's how we've made this union more perfect."*

Today, the President also said:

That is our generation’s task -- to make these words, these rights, these values -- of Life, and Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness -- real for every American. Being true to our founding documents does not require us to agree on every contour of life; it does not mean we will all define liberty in exactly the same way, or follow the same precise path to happiness. Progress does not compel us to settle centuries-long debates about the role of government for all time -- but it does require us to act in our time. 

Wonderful. I loved this and all the speeches, and seeing the people, and the ceremonies, and the singing, and the parades -- all great. And man, it sure beats a lot of brutal alternatives.  

*Source: Chris Geidner, 

Under Title VII of the Civil Right Act of 1964, the federal government made it illegal throughout the USA for empoyers to descriminate based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. This has been expanded, some by federal law and some by various state laws, so there are now additional protected realities like gender/sexual orientation, pregnancy age, disability, weight, height and others that can't be used as the basis for discrimination. "Don't ask, don't tell" discrimination was ended in the US military by the Obama Administration in 2011.


On July 16, 1998, at the 150th anniversary celebration of the visonary Seneca Falls Convention of 1848 in Seneca Falls, New York, I heard Hillary Rodham Clinton speak these words in person: "We are, as one can see looking around this great crowd, men and women, old and young, different races, different backgrounds. We come to honor the past and imagine the future." Hillary was at today's inauguration, too -- in the capacity of Secretary of State.

From the 1848 Declaration: "We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men and women are created equal . . ." 

And: "we insist that [women] have immediate admission to all the rights and privileges which belong to them as citizens of these United States." This was, of course, considered wildly radical at the time.      

Today's Rune: Fertility.


the walking man said...

I was actually surprised when he mentioned Stonewall (Gay rights) and Detroit (gun violence)

Charles Gramlich said...

I too thought it was well done.

pattinase (abbott) said...

I wonder how many people in the audience knew what Stonewall met. Or Seneca Falls or Selma for that matter.