When day comes we ask ourselves,
where can we find light in this never-ending shade?
The loss we carry, a sea we must wade.
We’ve braved the belly of the beast,
we’ve learned that quiet isn’t always peace
and the norms and notions of what just is,
isn’t always justice.
And yet the dawn is ours before we knew it,
somehow we do it,
somehow we’ve weathered and witnessed a nation
that isn’t broken but simply unfinished.
We, the successors of a country and a time
where a skinny black girl
descended from slaves
and raised by a single mother
can dream of becoming president
only to find herself reciting for one.
And, yes, we are far from polished,
far from pristine,
but that doesn’t mean we are striving
to form a union that is perfect,
we are striving to forge a union with purpose,
to compose a country committed to all cultures,
and conditions of man.
So we lift our gazes
not to what stands between us,
but what stands before us.
We close the divide
because we know to put our future first,
we must first put our differences aside.
We lay down our arms
so we can reach out our arms to one another,
we seek harm to none and harmony for all.
Let the globe,
if nothing else,
say this is true:
that even as we grieved, we grew,
even as we hurt, we hoped,
that even as we tired, we tried,
that we’ll forever be tied together
not because we will never again know defeat
but because we will never again sow division.
Scripture tells us
to envision that everyone
shall sit under their own vine and fig tree
and no one should make them afraid.
If we’re to live up to our own time,
then victory won’t lie in the blade,
but in in all of the bridges we’ve made.
That is the promise to glade,
the hill we climb if only we dare it
because being American is more than a pride we inherit,
it’s the past we step into
and how we repair it.
We’ve seen a force that would shatter our nation
rather than share it.
That would destroy our country
if it meant delaying democracy,
and this effort very nearly succeeded.
But while democracy can periodically be delayed,
but it can never be permanently defeated.
In this truth,
in this faith,
for while we have our eyes on the future,
history has its eyes on us,
this is the era of just redemption
we feared in its inception
we did not feel prepared
to be the heirs of such a terrifying hour
but within it we found the power
to author a new chapter,
to offer hope and laughter to ourselves,
so while once we asked
how can we possibly prevail over catastrophe,
now we assert how could catastrophe possibly prevail over us.
We will not march back to what was
but move to what shall be,
a country that is bruised but whole,
benevolent but bold,
fierce and free,
we will not be turned around
or interrupted by intimidation
because we know our inaction and inertia
will be the inheritance of the next generation,
our blunders become their burden.
But one thing is certain:
if we merge mercy with might
and might with right,
then love becomes our legacy a
nd change our children’s birthright.
So let us leave behind
a country better than the one we were left,
with every breath from my bronze, pounded chest,
we will raise this wounded world into a wondrous one,
we will rise from the golden hills of the West,
we will rise from the windswept Northeast
where our forefathers first realized revolution,
we will rise from the lake-rimmed cities of the Midwestern states,
we will rise from the sunbaked South,
we will rebuild, reconcile, and recover
in every known nook of our nation
in every corner called our country
our people diverse and beautiful
will emerge battered and beautiful,
when the day comes
we step out of the shade
aflame and unafraid,
the new dawn blooms as we free it,
for there is always light
if only we’re brave enough to see it,
if only we’re brave enough to be it.