President Barack Obama wowed a crowd of nearly 7,000 when he made his way onstage during the “Be the Change: Live From the Inaugural” at the Hilton Washington on Tuesday (January 20). With his wife, Michelle Obama, by his side, the president thanked the legions of young Americans who worked to make sure that he became the 44th president of the United States.
“I’ve been looking forward to this ball for quite some time because, when you look at the history of this campaign, what started out as an improbable journey when nobody gave us a chance was carried forward, was inspired by, was energized by young people all across America,” he told the room, as supporters shouted, “Yes, we can!”
“I can’t tell you how many people have come up to us and said, ‘I was kind of skeptical, but then my daughter … she wouldn’t budge. She told me I needed to vote for Obama,’ ” he continued as the crowd cheered him on. ” ‘Suddenly, I saw my son and he was out volunteering and getting involved like never before.’ And so a new generation inspired a previous generation and that’s how change happens in America.
“It doesn’t just happen in the election and campaign. It’s happened in service all across America. As this is broadcast all around the world we know that young people everywhere are in process of imagining something different than what has come before us: Where there is war they imagine peace. Where there is hunger they imagine people being able to feed themselves. Where they imagine bigotry they imagine togetherness. The futures will be in your hands if you are able to sustain the kind of energy and focus you showed on this campaign.
“I promise you, America will get stronger and more united. You are going to make it happen, and [we] thank you from the bottom our hearts. God bless America. Hit it, band.”
The first couple then danced to an instrumental version of “At Last,” but this time their dance showed a bit more character and the two freestyled a few more fancy dance moves while laughing and joking with each other before an exuberant crowd. At the end, Obama kissed his wife on the cheek before proclaiming, “That’s what’s called ‘old school.’ Have a great night, guys. Love you.”
Watch “Be the Change: Live From the Inaugural” online now, and come back Thursday for the full performances from Kanye West, Kid Rock and Fall Out Boy. Stick with us for wall-to-wall coverage of the inauguration and of the scenes in Washington, D.C., New Orleans and Kenya.