Joseph Lowery

JOSEPH LOWERY…. There were two very high-profile religious figures included in the inaugural ceremony, and if either was expected to generate attention, it was supposed to be Rick Warren, who delivered the invocation.

As it turns out, though, it was the Rev. Joseph Lowery who’s generated some buzz.

The first 10 words of Lowery’s benediction may have sounded familiar: “God of our weary years, God of our silent tears.” The phrases come directly from James Weldon Johnson’s poem, “Lift Every Voice and Sing” — sometimes referred to as the “Negro National Anthem.”

But it was the end of the benediction that a lot of people will remember: “We ask you to help us work for that day when black will not be asked to get in back, when brown can stick around, when yellow will be mellow, when the red man can get ahead, man; and when white will embrace what is right.” This, too, was borrowed rhetoric, but it led to smiles and laughter, and infused a serious ceremony with some lightheartedness.

The 87-year-old civil rights leader practically stole the show. Good for him.