Inauguration Poet

President Barack Obama, on the day of his first term in 2009, had a poet by the name of Elizabeth Alexander recite her poem “Praise Song for the Day.” On the day of his second inauguration, he had poet Richard Blanco read his poem, “One Day.” Obama is only the third president in American history to have had a poet read at his inaugurations. 

 

The first president to have a poet read at their inauguration was John F Kennedy in 1961, who had Robert Frost recite his poem “The Gift Outright.” The second president to have this done was Bill Clinton, who had poems read at both of his inaugurations. For the first inauguration in 1993, he had Maya Angelou recite her poem “On the Pulse of Morning.”  At his second in 1997, Miller Williams recited his poem “Of History and Hope.”

 

Since Joe Biden has become the President Elect for the 2020 Presidential Election, I think it is only fitting if a poet reads at his inauguration as well. This year has been outstandingly terrible. People have been battling a pandemic, a crazy election between two candidates no one really likes took place and racial tensions are so high that tension is palpable in certain areas of this county. 

 

Spoken word and poetry, for decades, has been used as outlets for people to express their feelings on numerous hot button topics, ranging from abuse, to abortion, to anxiety and depression. Poetry is universal and about any and everything. Ever since the death of Trayvon Martin in 2012 and Micheal Brown in 2014, if you want to go even further back in history to the death of Emmett Till 1955, black men have been targeted and attacked and poems have been written about them from black youth in response.

 

From Gwendolyn Brooks's poem, “The Last Quatrain of the Ballad of Emmett Till,” to “For Trayvon Martin,” by Reuben Jakson, to “Roll Call for Michael Brown,” by Jason McCall, poems have been written about thousands of black youth slain by police or targeted for their race. This year alone we have seen a rise in black men being killed or being brutally beaten by police and poets have done what they always do and responded to them. 

 

Not to mention, black women have also been targeted and attacked, such as Sandra Bland. Poems have been written about her and women like her as well. Every conceivable minority has been subject to discrimination and hardship and poems have been written on these experiences. That is why I believe a poet of color should read at Biden's inauguration. 

 

Some poets I have in mind for this feat are Hanif Aburraquib, Teerance Hayes, Jericho Brown, Nikki Giovanni, Alice Walker, Elizabeth Acevedo and U.S poet Laureate Joy Harjo. Not only are they masters of language, they are outspoken about the trials and tribulations of the communities in which they come from. I hope President Elect Biden chooses to have a poet read at his inauguration and in doing so, I hope he chooses one of these amazing poets.