2009: Elizabeth Alexander —
Twelve years later, Barack Obama asked Yale professor and poet Elizabeth Alexander to read at his presidential inauguration. Obama and Alexander (whose brother was a member of Obama's campaign team) met years before, when they were both working at the University of Chicago. Alexander recited "Praise song for the day" at the ceremony. Here is an excerpt from the poem:
Say it plain: that many have died for this day.
Sing the names of the dead who brought us here,
who laid the train tracks, raised the bridges,
picked the cotton and the lettuce, built
brick by brick the glittering edifices
they would then keep clean and work inside of.