Bay Area Visitors Came, Cried, Chanted “Obama”

They came, some cried. But mostly they stood, and waved flags and clapped and chanted “Obama, Obama”. Hundreds of thousands of us, of all races and all ages stood at the Mall, or alongside the Capitol and watched Barrack Obama place his left hand on the Bible and make history by becoming America’s first African American president. No 44.   Click this link to hear from the Bay Area people I found at the ceremony:

"I’m confident in America, that it will become better now," said Theresa Cluck from Oakland. "We’ll have a great leader. This is just a beautiful, beautiful day."

She was right. The weather was way too cold and many in the crowd were standing too close to each other to be really comfortable. But it was a beautiful day.

Aretha Franklin wowed us with her rendition of "My Country ‘Tis of Thee," and Michelle Obama’s glittering gold dress had many gasping in envy. But the day belonged to Obama and the millions of people who campaigned, and volunteered for him. Now they and us watched him become commander in chief

Menlo Park’s Julie Brenner couldn’t contain her joy. For her months of hard work paid off big time.  Her efforts helped Barrack become of the country’s youngest presidents. "I was the office manager for San Mateo county democratic headquarters," she told me proudly. "I had to be here."

For much of about 4 hours I was jammed among the throngs of people, who wanted to be an eyewitness to history. I flew into D.C. on Sunday without an official ticket. But I knew that I had enough contacts to ensure that I would get one. I was not disappointed and ended up on the West Front of the Capitol. There was no shortage of Bay Area people nearby.

"This is something special," said Vicky Spears, who came here from Oakland. She had been grinning and laughing most of the morning. "My parents went through so much to get us where we are today and to see the first Black president, well all I can say is wow!" She also went to the celebrity-studded concert on Sunday. But nothing could match Obama’s star power. I asked her what she wanted most from him. Fix the educational system she said, without hesitation. "Because the youth are our future and we have to make sure they have a good base."

Some people got here about 5 a.m.  Like me they had spent the night on a friend's floor or sofa in order to get to the inauguration early. As we bowed our heads and recited the Lord’s Prayer, I though how blessed we all were, that despite the odds we had made it to this special place, at this special moment in history.

"For me its about equality," said Ruiz Zaragaoa "It’s pretty inspiring for me as a young minority to see someone from another different minority make it to the highest office." He told me that he loved it when Obama said in his speech he would not give up the fight for prosperity for all, and he warned those who seek to harm America would not win.

San Francisco’s Toni Battle said, as Obama was speaking, she thought of her parents, grandparents and ancestors. It made her want to cry. "Just proud, very proud," she said. "I felt like my ancestors dictated that I be here, to think what they went through in order for me to just be here."  She was by no means the only one who was emotional. Battle wants Obama to put the focus back on civil rights and to fix the economy. That is way she said it would build the future and strengthen our past.

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