The History of African-Americans in Presidential Inaugurations

A look at Black participation over the years.

1865: Lincoln's Second Inauguration - Black Americans have had featured roles in presidential inaugurations long before Barack Obama. A look at African-American participation over the years. — Jonathan P. Hicks For the first time, African-Americans participated in an inaugural parade as the Civil War was coming to a close.(Photo: Library of Congress)

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1865: Lincoln's Second Inauguration - Black Americans have had featured roles in presidential inaugurations long before Barack Obama. A look at African-American participation over the years. — Jonathan P. Hicks For the first time, African-Americans participated in an inaugural parade as the Civil War was coming to a close.(Photo: Library of Congress)

1957 – Dwight D. Eisenhower’s Second Inauguration  - Marian Anderson, the renowned African-American contralto, sang the National Anthem. Anderson was one of the most celebrated singers of the 20th century.(Photo: National Park Service)

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1957 – Dwight D. Eisenhower’s Second Inauguration - Marian Anderson, the renowned African-American contralto, sang the National Anthem. Anderson was one of the most celebrated singers of the 20th century.(Photo: National Park Service)

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1961 – John F. Kennedy’s Inauguration - Once again, Marian Anderson was a featured singer for a presidential inauguration. She was also the first Black singer to perform at the Metropolitan Opera in New York City.(Photo: Erich Auerbach/Getty Images)

1969 – Richard M. Nixon’s First Inauguration  - Rev. Charles Ewbank Tucker, the presiding bishop of the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church, delivered the invocation.(Photo: Library of Congress)

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1969 – Richard M. Nixon’s First Inauguration - Rev. Charles Ewbank Tucker, the presiding bishop of the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church, delivered the invocation.(Photo: Library of Congress)

1973 – Richard M. Nixon’s Second Inauguration  - Rev. E.V. Hill, the pastor of the Mount Zion Missionary Baptist Church in Los Angeles, delivered the invocation. Hill was a conservative religious leader who was a powerful figure in one of the nation’s largest African-American denominations.(Photo: Courtesy Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum)

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1973 – Richard M. Nixon’s Second Inauguration - Rev. E.V. Hill, the pastor of the Mount Zion Missionary Baptist Church in Los Angeles, delivered the invocation. Hill was a conservative religious leader who was a powerful figure in one of the nation’s largest African-American denominations.(Photo: Courtesy Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum)

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1977 – Jimmy Carter’s Inauguration  - A group of singers from Atlanta University, Clark College, Morehouse College, Morris Brown College and Spelman College performed the Battle Hymn of the Republic under the direction of Wendell P. Whalum, the celebrated choral director.(Photo: Library of Congress)

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1977 – Jimmy Carter’s Inauguration - A group of singers from Atlanta University, Clark College, Morehouse College, Morris Brown College and Spelman College performed the Battle Hymn of the Republic under the direction of Wendell P. Whalum, the celebrated choral director.(Photo: Library of Congress)

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1993 – Bill Clinton’s First Inauguration - Maya Angelou, the renowned author and poet, recited  original work “On the Pulse of Morning.” It would become one of her most famous poems. She was the first poet to make an inaugural recitation since Robert Frost at John F. Kennedy’s inauguration in 1961.(Photo: Brad Markel/Liaison)

1997 – Bill Clinton’s Second Inauguration  - Rev. Gardner C. Taylor, a confidant of Martin Luther King Jr. who is widely known as the “Dean of Black Preachers,” delivered the benediction. Santita Jackson, the daughter of civil rights leader Jesse L. Jackson, sang the National Anthem. And Jessye Norman, the international opera star, sang a medley of patriotic songs.(Photo: Smithsonian Institution Archives)

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1997 – Bill Clinton’s Second Inauguration - Rev. Gardner C. Taylor, a confidant of Martin Luther King Jr. who is widely known as the “Dean of Black Preachers,” delivered the benediction. Santita Jackson, the daughter of civil rights leader Jesse L. Jackson, sang the National Anthem. And Jessye Norman, the international opera star, sang a medley of patriotic songs.(Photo: Smithsonian Institution Archives)

2001 – George W. Bush’s First Inauguration  - Kirbyjon H. Caldwell, the pastor of the Windsor Village United Methodist Church in Houston, delivered the benediction. Bush and Caldwell developed a relationship while Bush was the governor of Texas.(Photo: US Senate Archive)

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2001 – George W. Bush’s First Inauguration - Kirbyjon H. Caldwell, the pastor of the Windsor Village United Methodist Church in Houston, delivered the benediction. Bush and Caldwell developed a relationship while Bush was the governor of Texas.(Photo: US Senate Archive)

2005 – George W. Bush’s Second Inauguration  - Denyce Graves, the noted African-American mezzo-soprano opera singer, performed. Once again, Kirbyjon H. Caldwell delivered the benediction.(Photo: US Senate Archive)

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2005 – George W. Bush’s Second Inauguration - Denyce Graves, the noted African-American mezzo-soprano opera singer, performed. Once again, Kirbyjon H. Caldwell delivered the benediction.(Photo: US Senate Archive)

2009. Barack Obama’s First Inauguration  - Aretha Franklin, the legendary “Queen of Soul,” performed. Rev. Joseph E. Lowery, the civil rights leader and former president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, delivered the benediction.(Photo: Dennis Brack /Landov)

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2009. Barack Obama’s First Inauguration - Aretha Franklin, the legendary “Queen of Soul,” performed. Rev. Joseph E. Lowery, the civil rights leader and former president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, delivered the benediction.(Photo: Dennis Brack /Landov)