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Tue, 01.20.2009

First inauguration of a Black President of America

Barack Obama takes oath

*On this date in 2009 the first Black man became president of the United States of America.

The inauguration of Barack Obama as the forty-fourth President of the United States took place with a record attendance for any event held in Washington, D.C. It marked the commencement of the four-year term of Obama as President and Joseph Biden as Vice President. With his inauguration as President of the United States, Obama also became the first president born in Hawaii. The theme of the 56th inauguration was "A New Birth of Freedom," commemorating the 200th anniversary of the birth of Abraham Lincoln.

The inauguration celebration began on January 17, 2009, with a train ride from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Official events were held in Washington, D.C., from January 18 to 21, 2009, including the We Are One: The Obama Inaugural Celebration at the Lincoln Memorial, a day of service on the federal observance of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, a "Kids' Inaugural: We Are the Future" concert event at the Verizon Center, the inaugural ceremony at the U.S. Capitol, an inaugural luncheon at National Statuary Hall, a parade along Pennsylvania Avenue, 10 inaugural balls at the Washington Convention Center and elsewhere, a private White House gala and an inaugural prayer service at the Washington National Cathedral.

As of January 30, 2009, Obama's 2009 Presidential Inauguration Committee raised more than $53 million, with at least 458 people giving the committee-imposed maximum amount of $50,000, including George Soros, Halle Berry, Jamie Foxx, Sharon Stone, Samuel L. Jackson, Jeffrey Katzenberg, Ron Howard, George Lucas, Steven Spielberg, Robert Zemeckis and Lisa Henson, daughter of Jim Henson.  Unlike political campaigns, an individual or corporation could contribute to an inaugural celebration without legal restrictions on the amount of the donation.

However, Obama's Presidential Inauguration Committee, which included Penny Pritzker, John W. Rogers, Jr., Pat Ryan, William Daley and Julianna Smoot as members, set a $50,000 contribution limit. To underscore its commitment to change business as usual, the inauguration committee did not accept donations from PACs, federally registered lobbyists and corporations.  In spite of its commitment, the committee did accept donations from individuals who had active lobbying interests but were not classified as registered lobbyists, such as executives from Google and Microsoft executives Eric Schmidt and Steve Ballmer.

In 2005, numerous corporations contributed $250,000 to the second inauguration of George W. Bush, which cost an estimated $42.3 million not including security costs. Obama's inauguration was expected to cost $45 million from Obama's Presidential Inaugural Committee and "near $50 million" from Washington, D.C. for security costs. Some estimated costs soared to more than $150-170 million for Washington, D.C. and more than $11 million for neighboring states such as Maryland.

Reference:
The Associated Press
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