(South Florida News Service)- WASHINGTON, D.C. – Three-year-old Elysse Wilson knew President Barack Obama would win re-election and she wanted to see him when he did. So her mother, Antoinette Wilson, made a promise. “She was saying, ‘I wanna see Obama, I wanna see Obama,’ ” said Wilson, 34, who lives in West Palm Beach with Elysse and her other child Eric, 7. “And I said, ‘Okay, if Obama wins, we’ll go see Obama.’ So that’s the only reason I’m here.”
Wilson joined up with 37 other members and supporters of the Martin Luther King Jr. Coordinating Committee at the Church of God in Christ in West Palm Beach early Sunday morning, Jan. 20, for the 24-hour bus ride that would take them to Washington, D.C. for Obama’s second inauguration.
The trip was organized by Edith Bush, 80, executive director of the nonprofit organization that she co-founded in 1971 to petition for better conditions in segregated schools. Bush, a former educator and longtime activist, took a group to the last inauguration, and was planning this year’s trip before the election results were announced. Obama’s election was especially important for young people to see, she said, because it showed them what an African American can achieve.
“There are those of us who know what the dream is about,” she said. “We feel we need to teach our
children, especially those born during integration, what it was all about.”
Terrell Evans, a high school senior who started volunteering for the committee in middle school, got off the bus with the other travelers at the Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium in D.C. at 7:30 a.m. the next day.
Evans, 18, said he had never been to an event this important. But in September, he stood in line for three hours to see Obama speak at the Palm Beach Convention Center. In November he cast his first-ever presidential ballot for Obama. Evans had anticipated the D.C. trip for months.
“I’ve got something to tell my kids,” he said. “I feel like I’m a part of history.”
The walk from the stadium to the National Mall took nearly three hours. Police barricades blocked off streets herded the hoards around the mall, only to dead end at the Washington Monument, more than a mile from the inaugural platform on the Capitol steps.
Stadium-sized television screens and sound systems were to bring the grandeur to the 800,000-plus throng. But transmitted only distorted images and garbled audio.
“We walked all this way and we can’t see him,” said Evans.
But Elysse Wilson was happy.
“Where’s Obama? Where’s Obama?” she asked as she waited with her mother at the monument.
Her mother picked her up so she could see above the crowd, and pointed at the image of Obama on the TV screen. “Can you see him now?” she said.
Elysse looked up at the big screen, smiled, and said yes.