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Inaugural Ball 2013: Jennifer Hudson Serenades President and First Lady

Jennifer Hudson kicked off the Inaugural Ball last night, serenading President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle in their first dance.

Hudson, dressed in a simple black dress, sang Al Green’s “Let’s Stay Together,” a fitting number as the President kicked off his second term. All eyes were on the First Lady, who stunned in a red Jason Wu  chiffon gown.

Other performers at the ball included Alicia Keys and fun. Keys gave a revamped rendition of “Girl On Fire” entitled “Obama’s On Fire,” while Fun. performed smash “We Are Young.”

The ball followed a headline-making inauguration ceremony earlier that day, where Beyonce delivered a rousing version of the National Anthem and Kelly Clarkson gave a soulful rendition of “My Country ‘Tis of Thee.”

In addition to  the ceremony’s musical performances, The President also gave his second inaugural address, which stepped away from traditional lofty rhetoric and ironed out a more specific, progressive agenda.

Alluding to tax increases for the wealthy: “For we, the people, understand that our country cannot succeed when a shrinking few do very well and a growing many barely make it.”

On gender and the pay ceiling: “It is now our generation’s task to carry on what those pioneers began, for our journey is not complete until our wives, our mothers and daughters can earn a living equal to their efforts.”

On LGBT rights: “Our journey is not complete until our gay brothers and sisters are treated like anyone else under the law, for if we are truly created equal, then surely the love we commit to one another must be equal, as well.”

On immigration: “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.”

However, the President’s words on equality did have a tone of poetry and deeper historical weight. It is a trope of many presidential addresses for the president to reference great American military conflicts such as Gettysburg or Pearl Harbor as a symbol of the sacrifice of those who came before us.

However, rather than allude to military event and purely physical sacrifice, Obama recalled “the star that guides us still; just as it guided our forebears through Seneca Falls and Selma and Stonewall; just as it guided all those men and women, sung and unsung, who left footprints along this great mall, to hear a preacher say that we cannot walk alone.”

In referencing the first women’s rights conference in Seneca Falls, a Civil Rights march in Selma, and the Stonewall riots for gay rights in New York, Obama assembled a narrative that detailed the struggle for quality throughout American history, and set the philosophical groundwork for his second term.

Jennifer Hudson’s covers Al Green’s “Let’s Stay Together”

Alicia Keys “Obama’s on Fire”

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