Michelle Obama will attend the funeral of the Chicago girl who was shot to death just a week after performing at President Obama's inauguration. Hadiya Pendleton, 15, was a majorette in her high school band and was fatally shot January 29 by a gunman who investigators say may have mistook her for a gangmember. Police are offering a $40,000 reward for information leading to her killer. Creators and supporters of a petition that called for Obamas' attendance at the funeral woule be pleased to know the first lady will be accompanied at the funeral service by senior White House adviser Valerie Jarrett and Education Secretary Arne Duncan, but is not expected to speak at the service. (Yahoo!)
At a news conference for her upcoming Super Bowl halftime show, Beyonce launched into an impromptu performance—in her way, putting a rest to the news circus surrounding her Presidential Inauguration performance. Following her Inauguration performance, a whirlwind of reports began claiming she lip-synched and, at times, questioning her actual ability to sing the national anthem. Well, Bey laid the whole thing to rest when sung the “Star-Spangled Banner” live—without the help of a backing track.
When asked about the lip-synching situation, she admitted she used a backing track. “I am a perfectionist. I did not have time to rehearse with the orchestra [at the Inauguration],” she said. “Due to the weather, due to the delay, due to no proper sound check, I did not feel comfortable taking the risk.” She said she was very proud of her performance at Inauguration. However, she didn't give a clear answer about whether or not a backing track will be used for the Super Bowl.
She finished the song at the news conference, simply asking (rhetorically of course), “Any questions?”
Hadiya Pendleton, a 15-year-old student at Chicago’s King College Prep, danced at an event in Washington, in celebration of fellow Windy City resident Barack Obama’s presidential inauguration. Less than a week later, she was shot in the back while hanging out with friends in a park not far from Obama’s family home. The news of her death sent more shockwaves around the country, as families of gun violence victims, lawmakers and gun rights advocates on Wednesday debated measures to restrict access to certain weapons and make it harder for the wrong people to purchase firearms. Pendleton’s death was not unfamiliar for some in Chicago, where gun violence has contributed to at least 40 deaths this year and more than 500 last year. Joshua Purkiss, an officer with the Chicago Police Department, said investigators believe the shooter mistook Pendleton and her teenage friends for gang members and fired at them. Another boy was shot once in the leg, but is in good condition. A third victim had a graze wound. White House spokesman Jay Carney called the shooting “another example of the problem that we need to deal with.” (New York Times)
President Barack Obama is expected to outline his plans for immigration reform when he travels to Nevada Tuesday. He began his effort for reform by meeting with Latino members of Congress Friday, calling immigration his top legislative priority. Upon hearing that the White House would be making an announcement regarding immigration, a bipartisan group in the Senate rushed to finish a statement of principles on immigration. The group included Democrats Chuck Schumer of New York and Robert Menendez of New Jersey and Republicans Marco Rubio of Florida and John McCain of Arizona.
The November election showed the changing dynamics of the country, making Republicans realize how badly the loss of Latino voters hurt them. Finally, many Republicans are easing up on the divisive debate over immigration. However, a strong segment in the House still appears to be against anything that resembles amnesty for those entering the country illegally. In contrast, that is a central goal for any comprehensive immigration reform President Obama will support. He hasn’t decided whether the White House will draft an administration bill or support measures drafted by Congress. (LA TImes)
Yes, it was annoying. Antiabortion activist Rives M. Gorgan, on Monday, climbed a tree during President Barack Obama’sinaugural ceremony and screamed words of protest throughout much of the event. When he came down, he was arrested. But it’s what D.C. Judge Karen Howze did to Gorgan that has conservatives and liberals defending his free speech rights. Gorgan has been banned from stepping foot in town until a court hearing on Feb. 25. The decision has ignited a vigorous debate over free speech in the nation’s capital. “Banning him from the District because he’s sitting in a tree or speaking out, I think is absurd,” said John Whitehead, who heads the civil liberties group that is taking Gorgan’s case. “He’s strange, but do you know how many strange people enter D.C. every day who probably shouldn’t be here?” (Washington Post)
Who’s that person yapping on and on about American exceptionalism and the need to perfect the union?
It’s likely the man – and hopefully one day soon the woman – who has just taken the presidential oath of office.
Inaugural addresses, in and of themselves, are important pieces of the historical record. They can set the tone for a successful or failed first term. They can be the “reset button” for an unlikely second term.
As President Barack Obama prepared to deliver his second inaugural address Monday, his speechwriters were undoubtedly aware that every word and syllable might be weighed and dissected by historians, political analysts and partisan foes.
That’s because “we have very complicated, contradictory notions of who we expect our presidents to be,” wrote Ted Widner, in an analysis of 54 inaugural address for "The American Scholar."
Widner reasons that Americans want the president to be “the leader of a political party…the symbol of the nation…the military commander-in-chief…the oracle, therapist, and self-empowerment guru for nearly 300 million people.”
That’s a lot to live up to. Be the judge yourself. Review below how Obama and the most recent “two termers” -- George W. Bush and Bill Clinton -- did in their speeches:
For part 2 of Clinton's 1997 inaugural address, click here.
Who gave the better speech? Tell us in the Comments section below!
Young professionals were acknowledged and celebrated during Inauguration weekend by IMPACT, a nonprofit organization focused on fostering civic engagement. The organization held numerous events throughout the weekend, including a day of service to beautify the area surrounding the MLK Memorial. IMPACT also hosted a Jazz Brunch to recognize the accomplishments of community activists—also known as “Champions of Change”—and later co-hosted the Hip Hop Ball II along with Russell Simmons’s Hip-Hop Summit Action Network.
The weekend was filled with distinguished and celebrity guests, including Department of Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, Civil Rights activist Dolores Huerta, Lala Anthony, 2 Chainz, and John Legend. IMPACT is known for working with businesses and high-powered leaders to host lectures series, workshops, and strategic networking. Most of the programs are geared towards uplifting young professionals who possess an interest in giving back to the community. (IMPACT)
Take a deep breath Queen B stans. Apparently, the amazing performance Beyonce Knowles gave when she sung “The Star Spangled Banner” at the inauguration was entirely lip-syched, Page Six has confirmed. A rep for the United States Marine Band said that she decided to use a pre-recorded track at the last minute. This comes as a shock since she so dramatically mouthed the lyrics and removed her earpiece—only to reveal she wasn’t even making noise.
“All music is pre-recorded for the ceremony because there are so many eventualities and conditions that day,” said Kristin DuBois, a rep for the band. “We performed, live, the band. But we received last minute word that Beyonce was going to use the pre-recorded track.”
The Beyhive is surely abuzz about the news, since Beyonce can clearly do no wrong. Although, there may be cause for a pause since Kelly Clarkson sung her rendition of “My Country, ‘Tis of Thee” live. Beyonce is set to perform for the Super Bowl next month. (New York Post)
The big reveal of Michelle Obama’s red chiffon and velvet gown, chosen for Monday night’s inaugural ball, almost broke Twitter. But Jason Wu, the dress designer, won’t be “broke” anytime soon. This is the second time the first lady chose her much-anticipated dress from Wu's designs. When Michelle Obama chooses a designer, it lifts them out of obscurity and places them on a path for enduring success. Wu, last year, launched a limited women’s line at Target and continues to dress other big names in his high-end, luxury line. The “double-dose” of Obama love was a surprise for Wu. “I’m still floating,” Wu told The New York Times. “It is a big surprise. The White House kept me pretty clueless until five minutes ago.” (NY Times)
President Barack Obama is now the first President to say the word 'gay' in an inaugural speech. Of course, that wasn't the main topic as he gave his second inaugural address on Monday, but it was very indicative of his overall focus on domestic policy and social issues. The nearly 2,000-word speech had only one brief paragraph on foreign policy. Of course, like any inaugural speech, the President mentioned democracy and America’s role as a leader as the overarching themes. But more specific polarizing topics like immigration and gay marriage also made an appearance in his speech, garnering loud cheers from the audience.
“Our journey is not complete until our gay brothers and sisters are treated like anyone else under the law,” President Obama said. “Our journey is not complete until we find a better way to welcome the striving, hopeful immigrants who still see America as a land of opportunity; until bright young students and engineers are enlisted in our workforce rather than expelled from our country.”
Other interesting topics that showed up were rising health care costs and climate change, topics he said he would focus on for the next four years. He said that America cannot ignore obligations to people who helped build the country but also can’t neglect the responsibility it has to protect the future of young Americans. Here is President Obama’s full speech.
When President Barack Obama takes center stage in Washington, D.C., Monday morning for his second inaugural address, expectations in some ways may be even higher than they were for him the first time he took the oath of office.
Four years ago, it was all about hope and the transformative change to be brought about by the election of the first African American commander-in-chief. This time around, the hope is still there, but there are also more concrete desires for tangible change from this president. That's especially true of those groups who have been historically disenfranchised, but who supported him by huge margins this last election.
In fact, disenfranchisement when it comes to the vote is definitely on the minds of many in the African American community after what they saw as overt attempts by conservative and GOP forces to depress the black vote. (Despite this, blacks turned out in record numbers and more than 95 percent cast ballots for Obama.) During his victory speech, Obama said the voting system needed to be "fixed." Many blacks are hoping the president addresses the need to federally mandate access to all elections and end state-by-state disenfranchisement rules.
Education, and the opportunities for success that come along with it, also remains a major concern for African Americans. Here, the hope is to hear Obama speak about the continuing need for the nation to provide a quality education to all children, without the distraction of armed guards as a knee-jerk reaction to tragic, yet infrequent, mass shootings, and with reforms to disciplinary policies that often lead to a virtual school-to-prison pipeline.
And members of the faith community want a more clearly defined seat at the Obama policymaking table this time around. The president’s embrace of same sex marriage and a mandate that women’s contraceptive health coverage be provided for employees of religious-based institutions angered some in that community last year.
“This president has reached out to the faith community far more than others…but, [he often] leaves us wondering, ‘Where is our seat?,’” Dr. Jamal Harrison Bryant, pastor of Baltimore’s Empowerment Temple AME Church, told a local ABC News affiliate.
Another issue blacks hope to hear the president speak about on Monday is immigration reform, with some blacks concerned that illegal immigration pushes wages down overall and sometimes keeps native blacks out of certain jobs altogether.
Immigration reform, of course, is central for another key constituent group, Latinos, 70 percent of whom backed Obama for reelection, and who are now also looking for the president to speak to educational reforms targeting the high school dropout rate for Hispanic youth as well as job creation.
However, onlookers Monday may not want to get their hopes too high that the president will address such specifics during his address.
“I don’t see the inaugural address as the place for [policy specifics] to happen,” Judith Browne Dianis, co-director of the D.C.-based Advancement Project, told Loop 21. “He’s got to talk about keeping our country moving forward, inclusiveness and prosperity for all.”
Still, hitting such notes, she said, would signal that Obama is aligned with the Advancement Project’s priorities – free, fair and accessible elections for all; quality education that isn’t stifled by the school-to-prison pipeline; and comprehensive immigration reform.
"We are committed to seeing immigration reform become a reality and that jobs creation is a continued part of the conversation,” said LULAC's executive director Brent Wilkes.
So while the president will likely stick to more general themes during his inaugural address, much like he did during his last inaugural address --
-- Obama’s inaugural team has undoubtedly pleased many in the civil rights and advocacy communities with other details of Monday's ceremony.
For instance, Myrlie Evers-Williams, the former chair of the NAACP and widow of civil rights icon Medgar Evers, is to deliver the invocation before Obama’s swearing-in. Obama will also put his hand over a Bible used by the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., whose birthday will be celebrated as a federal holiday on the same day as the ceremony.
“That is symbolic and significant,” Browne Dianis said. It again reminds Americans that, “Wow, we have a black president! That’s just incredible.”
Are you as excited about the president's inauguration as you were four years ago? Tell us in the Comments below!
If you’ve been following the lead-up coverage to President Barack Obama’s second inauguration as president, you may have noticed first lady Michelle Obama's new hairdo. She’s got bangs. The president, in his opening remarks at an inaugural reception Sunday night, professed his love for his wife and her new cut. “I love her bangs,” he said. “She looks good. She always looks good.” The first lady unveiled the new hairstyle in a White House photo released last week, on her 49th birthday. (Associated Press)
So what do you think? Will you be emulating the first lady on your next trip to the salon? Tell us in the comment section below.
“You didn’t mess up,” first daughter Sasha Obama told her dad, President Barack Obama, who Sunday took the oath of office in a private ceremony with a handful of family members. Only Michelle Obama, holding the Robinson family Bible, and the Obamas’s daughters, Malia and Sasha, stood beside the president at the White House as he recited the 35-word oath. About a dozen other members of the Obama family were off camera, The New York Times reports. The oath was administered by Chief Justice John Roberts, who fours years ago had to administer it twice because he (and Obama) fumbled some of the phrasing. The public will get to see a grander swearing in on Monday, during the inaugural ceremonies. View video of the private ceremony in the player above.
Fox News Channel announced Saturday it would shut down for “routine maintenance” Monday morning at 11:30 E.T. Fox News president Roger Ailes said the network wanted to pick a time when nothing was happening that their viewers wanted to see. President Barack Obama's Inauguration is scheduled to take place during the maintenance. The only other time Fox had considered shutting down was exactly four years earlier on January 20, 2009. “It turned out that no Fox viewers wanted to watch TV that day. And I mean none,” Ailes said. “Regular viewers of Fox probably won’t notice anything unusual.
After the maintenance is completed, Fox will return to the air Tuesday morning with its regular broadcast schedule. (The NewYorker)
President Barack Obama will take the oath of office on January 21 for a second time, using historic bibles belonging to former President Lincoln and Martin Luther King Jr. The bibles were chosen to honor the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation and the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington.
The MLK bible chosen for the swearing ceremony was King’s “traveling bible” he used on the road. “His ‘traveling bible’ inspired him as he fought for freedom, justice and equality, and we hope it can be a source of strength for the President as he begins his second term,” King’s children said in a statement released by the Presidential Inaugural Committee. President Obama will take the oath twice this year because his second term falls on a Sunday. (NY Daily News)
In anticipation of the Inauguration festivities, President Barack Obama has released a 16-track playlist on Spotify featuring the artists set to perform at different events. The playlist was released on digital music service Spotify on Thursday, listing songs by Stevie Wonder, Beyonce, fun., and Usher.
The festivities begin Friday but President Obama’s actual inauguration takes place on Monday, Jan. 21. The concert and the two official inaugural balls will be held at the Washington Convention Center. Beyonce, Kelly Clarkson and James Taylor have already been announced to perform for Obama’s signing ceremony. (Huffington Post)
President Obama will have floats representing Dr. Martin Luther King and the Tuskegee Airmen at his inaugural parade on January 21. Just a day after he is sworn in privately to begin his second term as President, the ceremony will include a float honoring the civil rights leader, as well as an almost full-size replica of the red-tailed fighter plane flown by the famed Tuskegee Airmen, the first African American military aviators in the U.S. Armed Forces. Additional floats will represent Hawaii, Pennsylvania, and Illinois — the respective birthplaces of President Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and first lady Michelle Obama. (Washington Post)
As more news emerges about the second inauguration of President Barack Obama, the details are certainly a lesson in success for event planners. For starters, the Presidential Inaugural Committee on Wednesday announced that hit-makers Beyoncé and Kelly Clarkson will perform some of the country’s most patriotic songs during the ceremony, scheduled for Monday, Jan. 21. The big names joining the inaugural event perhaps explain why ticket peddlers are already selling the normally free tickets on eBay and Craigslist for up to $2,000 apiece. Organizers are trying to clamp down on the black market of inaugural tickets, which are distributed by members of Congress, either on a first-come-first-served basis or by lottery. About 250,000 tickets were issued to lawmakers for handout. Obama, through his committee, seems to have gone back on a pledge to limit the influence of money in politics. Inaugural event organizers are soliciting as much as $1 million from federal contractors and businesses for VIP access. Big donors are said to include AT&T, Microsoft, and a business that selling inauguration merchandise. (AP + Reuters)
Hundreds of people are outraged over a computer glitch at Ticketmaster on Sunday night, leaving them without tickets to President Barack Obama’s two official inaugural balls. People who signed up to attend the Inaugural Ball were notified on Sunday that they would receive an exclusive link on Monday to buy tickets. Instead, emails went out hours later with a link to buy the tickets.
“Why would you send an email out saying tickets will go on sell the next day and then release them 4 hours later[?]” one person vented on the Presidential Inaugural Committee’s Facebook page. “It’s an inside job and it stinks.” Ticketmaster sent out emails apologizing for the mistake and said it would “be in touch” with additional information for potential ticket buyers. (Washington Post)
Looking for a D.C. hotel during President Barack Obama’s second inaugurations? You may not have trouble finding a good deal, says city officials bracing for the momentous occasion. Officials are expecting 600,000 to 800,000 visitors for the Jan. 21 inauguration, far fewer than the 1.8 million people who flooded the frosty National Mall four years ago. Still, Obama’s second inauguration could be the last time the country swears in a black president. In 2009, some hotels sold out months in advance and visitors paid an average daily rate of $600 for the night before the inauguration. Elliott Ferguson, CEO of the tourism bureau Destination DC, said he expected demand for hotels to pick up after Christmas. (Associated Press)
Hard to believe that it's been four years since the nation’s first African American president was sworn in – and we were staring at the enormous gray bow atop Aretha Franklin’s church hat during Barack Obama’s inauguration.
But it’s almost that time again – and given the historic nature of the event, it could be the last time you see a black man sworn in as president for a really long time.
Most activities surrounding Obama’s second installment are scheduled for Jan. 21, although the nation’s official inaugural day is Jan. 20. (This year, Jan. 20 falls on a Sunday. A private oath of office will be administered by noon on that day to adhere to law.)
For those expecting the mad dash for tickets to the ceremony and the formal balls, along with prime hotel rooms and transportation arrangements – reminiscent of the record-breaking attendance for the 2009 festivities – it seems the excitement hasn’t quite returned in full force.
“I don’t see the hype yet,” said Bernice Cannings, owner of BC Tours and Travel in the Washington, D.C., area. “Last time, the minute [Obama] won, people were going nuts.”
Attending the inauguration for any individual far enough outside of the Beltway could easily cost $1,500. That’s a pretty penny after having just tapped out from Christmas holiday spending. There’s no shortage of companies and private citizens looking to profit, like so many did in 2009. However, getting there on a modest budget is doable.
“People are hoping that it will be like it was four years ago,” Cannings said in a phone interview. “People are trying to rent their homes and that kind of stuff. I heard someone was trying to rent [a] condo for $5,000.”
Cannings, who has run her travel agency for 20 years, said she is willing to help anyone looking for help making their inauguration plans. The absence of hype doesn’t mean that right now isn’t a prime time to get arrangements in order. By Christmas things could become increasingly more difficult to find, Cannings said. For instance, January airfare, train tickets and buses into Washington-metro area are currently at the rates they would be if it weren’t a presidential election year.
Lodging is a different story altogether. Patch.com reports that Georgetown Suites, located 2 1/2 miles from the site of the swearing in ceremony, had booked all 220 of its suites for that weekend by Nov. 7, the day after Obama’s re-election. For the big spending corporate groups or families, the Ritz Carlton is offering a special “West Wing” inauguration package for $201,300, according to a press release. That kind of dough reserves “an exclusive block of guest rooms” at its Five Diamond Georgetown location and includes inaugural related amenities.
On the travel sites Priceline, Hotwire and Expedia, quotes for Jan. 20 through 22 hotel stays start as low as $260 per night, for locations as many as 20 miles away from Reagan National Airport. The airport is 3 1/2 miles from the airport. (Dulles International Airport in Virginia is also an option.) This is where splitting the room cost with two or three friends may come in handy and increase the chance you can afford a hotel closer to the action.
The Craigslist housing section for Washington, D.C., had about 180 postings for lodging at private apartments, condos and vacation homes as of mid-November. Many of the apartments are going for $400 per night and entire homes are being offer for $22,000 in nearby Virginia. Beware of scammers, as one Craigslist posting warns.
Of course, the swearing in ceremony itself, and inaugural balls on evenings prior to or after the swearing in, requires some advanced planning. You don’t need tickets to be on the National Mall to see the inauguration. Jumbo screens are positioned cross the sprawling lawn and that’s where most will be watching. In January, Senators and member of the House of Representatives will be distributing inauguration tickets for viewing areas closest to where Obama will take the oath. While method of distribution is up to that member of Congress, ticket distribution will likely be done by lottery. Now is a good time to contact your senator or Congressperson for instructions.
The inaugural parade of the president and first lady down Pennsylvania Ave to the White House doesn’t require a ticket.
There are 10 official inaugural balls and a slew of unofficial balls and events that require tickets. The Neighborhood, Youth, and Commander-in-Chief’s inaugural balls vary in cost, but can go for as much as $300. A ticket to the HBCU ball is now $250. If balls aren’t your thing, it’s likely that just about every party promoters in the Washington D.C.-metro area will have information on a bash.
Lastly, for those on the fence about paying anything to attend, consider this: most people thought they’d never live to see an African American elected leader of the free world, let alone attend his (or her) inauguration, and its entirely possibly that, after Jan. 21, the nation might never do it again.