'Overwhelming emotion' at star-studded Obama inaugural concert
AFP - 2 hours 48 minutes ago
WASHINGTON (AFP) - - Music legends joined Sunday with hundreds of thousands of people at Washington's Lincoln Memorial in a vast emotional celebration of Barack Obama's upcoming inauguration as the first black US president.
Obama and his family enjoyed the show alongside the massive crowd who braved bitter cold to witness mega-stars including Bruce Springsteen, U2 and Stevie Wonder perform on the same steps Martin Luther King Jr roused the civil rights movement 46 years ago.
By dawn tens of thousands bundled in winter coats and gloves were already streaming through intense security cordons for the "We Are One" extravaganza that boasted a line-up with as many big names as a LiveAid concert.
Music legends Wonder and Springsteen joined soul divas Beyonce and Mary J. Blige and a host of other stars -- Jon Bon Jovi, John Legend, Shakira and James Taylor, among many others.
Actors Tom Hanks, Jamie Foxx, Denzel Washington and Jack Black also took the stage to read historic passages, honoring Civil War president Abraham Lincoln and the American outdoors, interspersed with rousing gospel choir songs and sweeping orchestral numbers.
It was Obama's address before the grand statue of Lincoln that was the highlight for many in the crowd who see his election as a transformational moment.
"Directly in front of us is a pool that still reflects the dream of a King, and the glory of a people who marched and bled so that their children might be judged by their character's content," Obama said.
"And behind me, watching over the union he saved, sits the man who in so many ways made this day possible."
What gives him the greatest hope of all, said Obama, "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."
Orlandus Gross, 61, a retired civil servant originally from Maryland, who went to see King speak 46 years ago, said he was "deeply moved to come back" to see Obama, adding that he had been "electrified" when Obama was elected.
Ultimately added Gross, standing in a full-length black leather jacket and sporting an Obama cap, he didn't care if the president was black or white: "I just want him to be a good president," he said.
"It is overwhelming to see this happen," said Linda Marshall, a school teacher from Obama's hometown Chicago who marched with King and other civil rights leaders as a teenager in the early 1960s, as she waited in line at a security checkpoint.
"Martin Luther King spoke here. And to have Barack come and stand in those same shoes, from Lincoln, to MLK, to Barack Obama ..." Her voice trailed off.
"This is history. I couldn't have imagined hoping for a day like this."
Scores of attendees huddled under blankets or jumping around to fend off temperatures hovering around the freezing mark. In a sign of the bitter cold, the 2,029 foot (618 meter) Reflecting Pool in front of the memorial was covered by a sheet of ice.
The wait in security lines and extreme cold did not hinder a throng of revelers from attending the free concert, which was broadcast live on an open signal by HBO television and National Public Radio.
A group who drove up for the inauguration from Florida even said they would have camped outside overnight if they had been allowed.
"I didn't march with Dr King, but to see his dream come to life is overwhelming," said Donella Reddick, 51, of Ft Lauderdale, Florida, whose family and friends were pressed up against one of the metal barriers.
"My only disappointment is that Martin Luther King wasn't here to see this," she said.
Added Audrey Warren, of Hollywood, Florida: "Remember how Martin Luther King said how he had been to the mountaintop? Well this is the top."
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