U.S. President Barack Obama is sworn in by Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts during the public ceremony as First lady Michelle Obama, and daughters, Sasha Obama (R) and Malia Obama look on during the presidential inauguration on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol January 21, 2013 in Washington, DC. Barack Obama was re-elected for a second term as President of the United States. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
Marisol Bello, USA TODAY
WASHINGTON -- There was joy and excitement Monday as Barack Obama was inaugurated a second time, but there was also a sense of sadness and goodbye, especially on social media.
Twitter was awash with sentiments that Obama would be the nation's first and last black president.
"Today is another great day for history. Probably the last time in a while there will be a black president. MLK would be proud," one tweet said.
Another said, "We should all cherish these last four years with Obama ... Because this truly might be our last black president."
"I know deep down inside none of these people want a black man running this country," one tweet opined.
Among the thousands who stood in the sunny winter cold Monday, some felt the melancholy sweeping Twitter.
Beverly Mckie, 60, of Columbia, S.C., said the thought has often crossed her mind that she will never see another black man elected president in her lifetime.
"It took so long to happen the first time," she says.
Gail Johnson, a teacher from Detroit who came to the nation's capital with her son, his Boy Scout troop and members of a church, said there will be another black president -- just not for at least another 50 or 60 years.
"There probably will be another one but not right away," largely because the country still struggles with issues of race, she said.
"And racism is hard to heal," she says.
She and others said after the ceremony that the United States has come a long way to have elected Obama not once but twice.
Others celebrating the inauguration were more optimistic that the country has reached a point where any person of any race -- or gender -- could become president.
"He's a steppingstone," said Rosetta El, 61, of Fort Washington, Md. "It's not the end of us rising."
As she and her cousin, Harvey Brooks, 70, of Tacoma, Wash., slowly made their way up the steep hill of the Capitol, Brooks said. "This country is more open than it's ever been."
He said Obama's election will open the door to other minorities, including Hispanics, Asians and Native Americans.
Marlene Garland-Hill, 54, a Detroit minister, said fear of change or the unknown is driving the pessimism behind the idea that Obama will be the only black president.
If anything, "he's opened the door," she said.
"I hope The Lord allows me to live to see the first woman president and the first Hispanic."