Local Politics

Tar Heels travel to witness historic inauguration

Posted January 19, 2009
Updated March 9, 2009

— The crowds began gathering in the nation's capital over the weekend in anticipation of Barack Obama's presidential inauguration on Tuesday.

More than 2 million people were expected to withstand temperatures below freezing and a chance of snow flurries to witness the swearing-in on the National Mall. They'll contend with a noon high of 32 degrees.

Almost 500,000 started the celebration with song and dance Sunday, enjoying a celebrity-filled concert at the Lincoln Memorial. Actors, singers, athletes and then Obama himself rallied the crowd. Performers on the bill included Bruce Springsteen, Bono, Beyonce and James Taylor.

Ronald and Paula Divers brought their four children from Charlotte to the event.

Charlotte family joins crowds at inauguration celebration Charlotte family in D.C. to witness history

"We just came out here to be a part of this historical event," Ronald Divers said.

"It's history in the making. We didn't want to miss it," Paula Divers said. "I think it means a lot to everyone, not just to African-American communities, to be out here. This is change that we are all seeking."

Many in the crowd noted the dual celebration of Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday Monday and the inauguration Tuesday. They said it was King's efforts decades ago that allowed Obama to be in the position to claim the presidency.

"Really, it's a dream come true because, for one thing, you remember the hurt (of segregation)," said Francine Brown, a Fayetteville resident attending the inauguration events. "You remember when people couldn't walk together.

"I didn't think I would live to see this coming. I thought, maybe, way in the future, but it's just a blessing that it's happening now," Brown said. "It just shows the change in America."

Bruce Lightner hitchhiked to Washington in 1963 to hear King speak. This week, the co-chairman of Raleigh's Martin Luther King Celebration Committee plans to take a bus to hear Obama. He has been planning the trip for months.

Raleigh residents board buses for inauguration Raleigh residents board buses for inauguration

"During the early part of the spring, I started getting a sense that Obama was going to be victorious, so I started looking at the inauguration," Lightner said.

He ordered two buses to make the trip.

"Within a 30-day period of time, it became clear we needed to organize it statewide," he said.

Lightner's group filled 30 buses with more than 1,700 people paying $150 each to travel from North Carolina to Washington for the inauguration.

The convoy left Raleigh at about 11:30 a.m. and arrived in Bowie, Md., outside the capital, at about 5 p.m., avoiding much of the traffic that had been predicted in advance of the inauguration. One rider said the relatively quick trip was a present from King to those wishing to experience the inauguration firsthand.

The group included a 90-year-old man traveling with his nurse – he made the trip over his son's objections – and others who said they were proud to be able to witness history.


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  • nc1state Jan 19, 2009

    "nc1state? Democrats ONLY controlled congress the last 2 years of Bush's 8 year presidency. Stop being a typical (blame the democrats)republican"

    cbsconsult - That is where you are wrong. I am a best person for the job type and not affiliated with either party. My point is unprecedented things happened on George's watch and he gets way too much blame for them. You may not agree with me and that is fine. Freedom of speech and opnion is a good thing. I am just calling things as I see them. I for one hope Obama does an excellent job. I have nothing to gain by him screwing up. I just hope the economy turns and we can go another 7 years without being attacked.

  • spaten Jan 19, 2009

    I can hardly wait for this to be over with .. thank goodness for Wii and Movies on Demand.

    A campaign run without reference to race .. but now that he is about to be sworn in that's all anyone can talk about.

    Historical? YES The first mixed race person to be elected as president.

  • ignc73 Jan 19, 2009

    Beach: People like you scare me. Literally. I honestly hope that you don't work with children.

  • Gork Jan 19, 2009

    If that wasn't lame sarcasm, if that remark about Obama not caring about 911 victims because he has a "Muslim name" and how dare we vote for someone with that name, if that is all sincere, you are a very ignorant individual.

  • cbsconsult Jan 19, 2009

    nc1state? Democrats ONLY controlled congress the last 2 years of Bush's 8 year presidency. Stop being a typical (blame the democrats)republican. At 12 noon tomorrow (God willing) Barack Obama will become the 44th president. Certainly he will do no worse than the previous 43.

    As to all of you who are fixated on to what race Obama belongs, I have the answer. He belongs to the HUMAN RACE! Enough said...

  • cbsconsult Jan 19, 2009

    Beach4Me? Using your logic...if someone with your last name, first name, or middle name committed a crime, you would change your name? Alrighty then.......get to changing your name! I am reasonably certain that someone somewhere with a name like yours has committed a crime...

  • ignc73 Jan 19, 2009

    aspenstreet1717: The cost of the inauguration is ONE HALF of ONE DAY in Iraq. There's not even a point to Iraq...

  • Beach4Me Jan 19, 2009

    What is wrong with the millions of people who voted for Obama. It is a slap in the face to all who lost loved ones in the 9/11 attacks. Yes, if he doesn't claim allegiance to the Muslim faith, why doesn't he drop the Muslim name? How dare anyone vote for this man with a name so similar to so many terrorist! Say goodbye to our great nation as we knew it. If you voted for Obama, I hope the Lord has mercy upon you.

  • UNCTAR Jan 19, 2009

    history being made? yes you are correct, but lets be truthful about it. Obama is not 100% african american, he is half white!!! he needs to pay some respect to his white mother.

  • Gork Jan 19, 2009

    "you all" are going to be swept away by the tide of hope that's building in this country and your negative, petty, jealous, fearful, bigoted, antediluvian attitudes will be dispersed. The country, the people who are the country, are taking back America from the real crooks and thieves. It's good news for you too...