Watching history unfold

Published 9:28 pm Tuesday, January 20, 2009

The crowd was antsy while Sen. Harry Reid, Rep. Nancy Pelosi and Vice President Elect Joe Biden were introduced.

As if watching an opening act at a concert, the men and women who gathered at the Suffolk Center for the Cultural Arts to watch the Presidential Inauguration were ready for the headliner.

And when Barack Obama was introduced on the steps of the Capitol Building in Washington D.C., those at the SCCA clapped and cheered as though they were there in person.

Email newsletter signup

It was an intimate event, about 75 people in attendance, but the number did not match the level of enthusiasm of those present.

“It is just so wonderful – I don’t know how to describe it,” said Ruby Walden, one of the people in attendance. “Listening to the speech, it just brought back so many memories of where we were when I was growing up. I’m so happy to see that America has become a nation of one people – more inclusive, more generous.”

She said watching history in the making served as a great time of reflection on the social inequalities and rights denied her and her peers growing up.

Walden called Obama’s 18-minute speech “wonderful” and “dynamic,” a sentiment shared by fellow event attendee Wilma DeBrew.

“Above all, I wanted to support Barack Obama,” DeBrew said. It was a difficult task because on Inauguration morning, the cable in her apartment complex went out. She frantically searched for somewhere she would be able to watch the inauguration, and found her way to the SCCA.

“I came over quick,” she said. “I did not want to miss it.”

With her was Bernice McClean. McClean is from the Virgin Islands, and she said she never witnessed a history of segregation in her native home. It was not until she came to America that she saw the hurdles for many minorities. She said Obama’s victory is especially meaningful in its ability to help African-Americans see they can overcome those hurdles.

“I truly believe he will move us forward,” she said. “I came here (to watch the inauguration) because he is determined, intelligent and sympathetic to his people – the American people. I’m here because I wanted to support him.”

Throughout the speech and its attendant ceremony, those in attendance clapped, sang and participated as though there was no difference between them and the estimated one million people lining the lawn of the Capitol Building.

In Walden’s heart, there really was no difference.

“I know from this point forward there will be a great change,” she said. “I’m just so elated. I’m so pleased to be here to see it. I feel like all of them and all of us have been a part of making this day happen.”