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Inauguration Excitement Grows as Historic Event Nears

Black Voices News.com, News Report, Posted: Jan 12, 2009

On any given weekday, thousands of people commute to the nations capital, snarling roads, packing subway trains, taxis and buses during peak hours.

Imagine multiplying that several times for Barack Obamas inauguration Jan. 20. Hundreds of people from the Inland region are set to witness the President-elects journey into the history books.

Pack your patience, is the advice from Corine Geller, a Virginia State police spokeswoman. Washingtons mayor, Adrian Fenty, predicts that up to 5 million people could flood the city, surpassing the record 1.2 million who lined the streets of the capital to see Lyndon Johnson take the oath following the assassination of John F. Kennedy.

Im not trying to discourage anyone, I just dont want people to come and be totally shocked by what they find, says District of Columbias city administrator Dan Tangherlini.

Deal breaker? Not on your life, says Rialto high school teacher and Obama campaign volunteer Nafeesa Sadi Were going to Washington even if we have to walk.

Shortly after the President-elects victory Sadi, her husband, five children and her 97-year-old mother sent an e-mail to friends and family: No Christmas gifts - send cash, airline tickets and lodging expenses were going to the inauguration.

We are determined to be there. This is history. We want our children to be able to say to their children I was a part of history, she said. They say a picture is worth a thousand words. No photograph can touch this, said Sadi whose parents slipped into the U.S. from Haiti when she was 3.

Dr. Mildred Henry plans to witness history wearing her late mothers coat. She says her mother, a teacher in Mississippi, was warned not to join the NAACP defiant she joined and became an ambassador for civil rights.

She wasnt afraid of losing her job because it was a gift from God. Surely he would give her another one, said Henry of her mothers determination.

Black Voice News co-publisher Hardy Brown said he will attend the inauguration to honor his father, his uncle Harry and the men who defied the shackles of Jim Crow.

The nations capital will be bursting with history and enthusiasm, no less the world will be watching with high expectations as Americas first African-American president is sworn into office on the steps of the U.S. Capitol, a monument to democracy that slaves helped to build.

At every turn of Obamas march to history the thread that deeply intertwines the founding of the nation with its great stain of slavery, will be evident says Jesse J. Holland, author of Black Men Built the Capitol.

When Obama takes the oath of office he will be standing amid stonework laid by slaves more than two centuries ago. Obama will appear before a crowd of millions massed on the Mall, where slaves were once held in pens, ready for auction, said Holland.

From quarrying sandstone to sawing giant logs, slaves and free Blacks labor can be seen at the west elevation of the old North Wing, near where Obama will take the oath of office. His inaugural parade will roll past the Lincoln Memorial on the far end of the Mall where slaves were once kept and sold in a three-story building called the Yellow House. His entourage will end at the White House, where the foundations were laid by slaves, and where eight presidents held Blacks as their human property.

Many people come down to the National Mall and never realize they are walking on the site of slave markets, said Holland.

Obamas inauguration speaks to another sea change in American history - the great March on Washington in 1963 the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., delivered his I Have a Dream speech from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.

Cheryl Brown co-publisher of the Black Voice News and founder and conductor of Footsteps to Freedom a study tour of the Underground Railroad says her Road to Inauguration History tour will take 50 people on a journey into Washingtons ugly past.

Its my duty as it was Harriet Tubmans to tell the story, to conduct the experience, to teach my people to honor and love our ancestors and appreciate what they did for us, said Brown.

Unable to attend the King March Ms. Brown recalls a burning urge to be a part of history. Id just had a baby and could not go. I have always wished I could have been there and now I will have the opportunity to be a part of an unforgettable experience.

Thus, a story that begins with slavery comes full circle with the arrival of the Obamas.

A previous president from Illinois, Abraham Lincoln, signed the Emancipation Proclamation that freed the slaves. Perched in the White House office now known as the Lincoln Bedroom Lincoln wrote, If slavery is not wrong, nothing is wrong.

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