The Guardian’s Ewen MacAskill has been down at the Mall early this morning to gauge the crowd on a chilly morning:
The crowd is nowhere close to the record 1.8 million in 2009 but the atmosphere seems more relaxed, maybe because people are not being packed in, maybe because it is second time round. It seems less austere than in 2009, more of a party mood.
When Little Richard’s You Make Me Wanna Shout came over the speakers, the crowd began leaping about, even though it was before 8am, normally a time when many are still bleary-eyed. It is much better sound system too than 2009, the speakers loud and clear even back near the Washington Monument, a mile away from Congress.
The crowd is a reflection of America, in terms of age, gender and race. There is, as in 2009, a large number of African-Americans, a reflection of their pride in seeing Barack Obama in the White House.
Adrian Debose, 26, an African American teacher marching with his family down Constitution Avenue towards Congress at 7.30am, felt Obama’s re-election was important not just for blacks but other minorities. If he had not been given a second term, it would have felt like a snub, he said.
Debose, from Putnam Hall, Florida, said: “Unfortunately, if he had not been re-elected, it might have inhibited other minorities from running again.”
Gun control is the number one priority for Jasmine Blakley, 19, a University of Maryland student from Baltimore, making her way down the Mall. “It is not just about Newtown. There are a bunch of people being killed every day. It is an issue,” she said.
With her was another University of Maryland student Robert Brooking, 19, also from Baltimore, who is optimistic about Obama’s second term. “I do not think the trend [of lame duck second-term presidencies] will hold true,” Brooking said. “There is a lot in store for the next four years, on gun control and immigration.”
He acknowledged that Obama’s call for a less ideological, less partisan Washington in his first inaugural speech had gone unheeded and that his first term had ended up polarised. He expected Obama to call again for an end to partisan divisions.
Inauguration day 2013: Obama sworn in for second term – live – The Guardian
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