Richard Blanco has been announced as a speaker at the 2013 inauguration of president Obama. While he is the fifth poet to speak at an inauguration, he racks up quite a few of “firsts.”
Blanco is the first ever Hispanic-American and openly gay poet to ever present at a presidential inauguration. He is also the youngest. When told the news that he had been selected to present, Blanco said he was ecstatic and could hardly believe that this opportunity had been given to him.
Blanco likes to say that he is a product of three countries, “made in Cuba, assembled in Spain, and imported to the United States.” His poetry reflects his diverse upbringing in the sense that in many works he is searching for an identity with one of the cultures that he is a part of.
One of his most known works, “AMÉRICA”, discusses his dilemma as a seven year old child when it came to the clashes of his Cuban and American influences. In one section, he was taught about a typical American Thanksgiving at school and he longed to experience this like his other classmates. His mother, who always made traditional Cuban cuisine, was persuaded to mix the cultures on this day and serve both turkey and pork.
A week before Thanksgiving
I explained to my abuelita
about the Indians and the Mayflower,
how Lincoln set the slaves free;
I explained to my parents about
the purple mountain’s majesty,
“one if by land, two if by sea”
the cherry tree, the tea party,
the amber waves of grain,
the “masses yearning to be free”
liberty and justice for all, until
finally they agreed:
this Thanksgiving we would have turkey,
as well as pork.
Full Poem Here: http://www.richard-blanco.com/city-of-a-hundred-fires/america.php
His poems exemplify the beauty of diversity in America. Blanco deserves this opportunity to speak at the inauguration as much as anyone, but I think the fact that he was chosen makes a significant point. America is evolving into an all-inclusive culture. Four years ago we elected our first black president. Now we will hear from our first Hispanic and openly gay poet. Opportunities are no longer being taken away from deserving citizens due to their race, background, and sexual preference. This is an America that I can be proud of.