News World On this day: Barack Obama became America’s first black president

On this day: Barack Obama became America’s first black president

Barack Obama, joined by his wife Michelle, takes the oath of office to become the 44th president of the United States. Photo: AAP
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On this day in 2009, Barack Obama rested a hand on a bible presented to him in the palms of his First Lady.

The same book had been held by former president Abraham Lincoln.

In honour of 200 years since Mr Lincoln’s birth, the inauguration theme was based on “A New Birth of Freedom”, a line from his famous Gettysburg address.

“I stand here today humbled by the task before us, grateful for the trust you have bestowed, mindful of the sacrifices borne by our ancestors,”  a 47-year-old Mr Obama told an energetic crowd.

Birth was a fitting theme for a day of new beginnings.

January 20 will forever mark the start of a new era for a group fighting for freedom: At last, the White House was to be home to a black leader.

“A man whose father less than 60 years ago might not have been served at a local restaurant can now stand before you to take a most sacred oath,” Mr Obama said in the 20-minute inauguration speech.

“So let us mark this day with remembrance, of who we are and how far we have travelled.”

An estimated 1.8 million people stood at the National Mall in Washington DC to witness the making of American history.

The last time so many people had gathered for an inauguration ceremony was in 1965, when Lyndon Johnson was sworn in as 36th president, attracting about 1.2 million people.

The next president after Mr Obama’s two terms, Donald Trump, pulled a crowd about a third the size of that which gathered in 2009.

Barack Obama as he awaited news of his election to the senate in 2004. With his wife Michelle and daughters Sasha and Malia. Photo: Getty

Now out of the White House, and a slight step out of the limelight, the former president – aided by wife Michelle and their two daughters – still knows how to draw fans.

Most recently, the two-term president showed off his long-time love on her 56th birthday.

“In every scene, you are my star … Happy birthday, baby,” he wrote.

The public display of affection captured in four candid, black-and-white photos has garnered more than seven million Instagram likes.

Mr Obama was elected during a time when the country was still reeling from the Great Recession – the biggest financial crisis since the 1929 Great Depression.

In his speech, he addressed how America’s economy was “badly weakened”, how healthcare was too expensive, how schools were failing students and how those who “seek to advance their aims by inducing terror” will be defeated.

“The challenges we face are real. They are serious and they are many. They will not be met easily or in a short span of time. But know this America, they will be met,” Obama declared.

A view of the crowd on the National Mall at the inaugurations of President Barack Obama, above, and President Donald Trump, below. Photo: AAP

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