Obama’s Inauguration: What It Meant to Them — Part V

Posted by Katherine | January 24, 2009 – 12:14 pm

Osvaldo Padilla has a background in journalism and now runs a commercial/corporate video-production company in Florida. He went to DC for the inauguration hoping to secure footage he could sell to news outlets. In this clip, New York mental-health counselor Carolyn Jenkins talks about her childhood experience of segregated buses.

[Osvaldo Padilla / Vimeo]

Sixty-year-old Texas Eyes, a disabled Texan grandmother and born-again Christian, favors rainy weather and computer games. She hesitated to write about the inauguration, but its emotional effect changed her mind:

Maybe it’s because I’m old enough to remember much of the atrocities people committed against those who were black. I well remember when they were forced to sit at the back of the bus. I remember that at the bus station we used at the time, there was a separate cafe clearly marked “Blacks.” I remember the same for the two water fountains in the building, as well as the restrooms. I remember the red caps who were always black and I remember asking my mother what it was all about. She explained to me that some people felt blacks were an inferior race and white people did not want to associate with them, drink after them, or use the same restroom. […] Mother also admonished me that “no one in the world, regardless of color, was better than me and that I was no better than anyone else.” […] I was about 5 years old at the time, I knew people (some in my own family) who used the awful “N” word. […] Even at that age if I came within speaking range with a black person I always said, “hello.” I didn’t realize how much trouble that black person could have gotten into for simply saying hello back. […]

So while I watched the inauguration on tv, I remembered Rosa Parks, the four little girls blown up in a church, and Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech. […]

As I absorbed all I could on Obama’s special day and remembered how his race had to struggle to get to this point, just as they had to struggle every time they tried to reach any part of freedom, and I cried not just for them but for our whole nation.

That said, Texas Eyes is glad Barack is president not because he is black but because she likes his platform. She feels John McCain is an American hero but “more closely identified with what Obama was saying about the changes he would make.”


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