- Faith & Family
In January 2009, it seemed like scores of Blacks from across the country were planning to converge on our nation’s Capitol to witness the making of history — the swearing-in of our first Black president at the Presidential Inauguration. Despite the 28-degree weather and the difficulty getting around Washington D.C., an estimated 1.8 million people, the largest crowd ever recorded on the National Mall, showed up to be a part of that historic moment.
But this time around may be quite different with estimates that the crowd will be about one million fewer people. Inauguration planners say, “the austerity in the festivities is a reflection of tough economic times and an effort to minimize the burden.”
In celebration of Obama’s first swearing-in, there were ten inaugural balls, but this year there will only be two official inaugural balls. Other activities have also been downsized from the first inauguration. But some South Florida residents say they’re going to make it to D.C. no matter what.
Getting On The Bus
One group of excited travelers will be on two buses that are both being chartered by Kevin Mitchell. He will be traveling with 102 passengers — an increase from the 55 passengers who rode with him to the 2009 Inauguration. The passengers include families, groups of friends and former classmates from local high schools and colleges. And while the inauguration planners have projected that there will be fewer viewers at the Inauguration, Mitchell said he thinks that there will be more attendees than they expect.
“A lot of people are going back this year because history is repeating itself, and many attendees feel that they won’t experience this moment where an African American is being sworn in as president again in their lifetime.”
For Wilhelmena Ford and Veronica Nowell, it will be their second time attending Obama’s presidential inauguration. They attempted to individually plan bus trips to the inauguration this year, but both had trouble getting enough passengers for their chartered buses. Nowell said a lot of people she spoke with wanted to go but weren’t able to make the commitment because of the expense.
Now that Ford and Nowell have collaborated together they have filled a bus and say they are most excited.
“It felt so great witnessing that history in 2009,” Nowell said. “So this year, I went to great lengths to make this trip possible, and God fixed it. Everybody was nice and friendly. And there were people from all races and all nationalities and they were all cheering the president on. That was something that we liked the most.”
Even though Nowell attended the first inauguration, she said viewing the second swearing-in is just as important if not more important than the first.
“The re-election was more challenging than the election itself, so I really want to go and give my support because we did it,” she said. “We got him in one more time.”
By Malika A. Wright