Obama Inauguration Coverage

6 02 2009

Versions of this were originally published by The News Record and the UC Association of Black Journalists.

Check out UCABJ Vice President Geoffrey Dobbins’s inauguration report at The News Record’s Web site.

Here are some images from the celebration Dobbins and Terron Austin attended: The Root Inaugural Ball

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Inauguration Report: UC Journalism student recounts unforgettable inauguration experience through personal narrative

Geoffrey Dobbins | The News Record

Published: Tuesday, January 27, 2009

WASHINGTON – On Tuesday, Jan. 20, Barack Obama took the oath as the 44th President of the United States. I took the opportunity to join the millions of people who traveled to Washington, D.C. that week for the event.

I  headed out on a Sunday morning from the home of Terron Austin, a 2008 alum of the University of Cincinnati journalism program.

I provided invitations to the swanky inaugural ball that night and he provided lodging with a friend who lives in D.C. Austin, equipped with a GPS in his phone and the experience of several previous trips to Washington, also acted as our navigator.We prayed, turned up the music and hit the road.

I sped down the highway in my Chevy Cavalier, singing along with the latest songs by Mary Mary and Raphael Saadiq and traded stories with Austin, who had just returned from the Stellar Awards (the Grammys of Gospel music) in Nashville.

When we finally made it to the dorm room of Austin’s friend, a Howard University student, the inaugural ball was already well underway. After receiving a little style advice from my fashion-conscious companion and quickly changing into our tuxedos, we were off to the Smithsonian Institute’s National Museum of American History.

Guests were still making their way along a red carpet to join the party upstairs as we arrived.  Actor and comedian, Chris Tucker, was taking pictures with author Michael Eric Dyson on one side of the room while my name was being checked off a list on the other.

The list of attending celebrities made me think about how I had stumbled into the big leagues like this. Fellow party-goers included Spike Lee, David Gregory (who recently replaced Tim Russert on NBC’s Meet the Press) and Obama’s pick for Attorney General, Eric Holder.

Even Oprah Winfrey showed up.

Henry Louis Gates Jr. spoke before the crowd in order to set the tone for the evening and articulate the reason for the celebration.

“Ladies and gentleman, we have lived to see the impossible with Barack Obama,” Gates said.

The intensity of the night lasted well into the early morning hours.

Despite traffic and limited parking, the festive atmosphere was apparent all over the city. All kinds of Obama gear – including shirts, hats, buttons, wristbands and handbags – were being sold on street corners.

And despite the cold weather, street venders were playing Obama-themed reggae music and selling funnel cakes and nachos as if all of Washington, D.C. was some sort of carnival.

When inauguration day finally came around, the crowds were still energized by the historic nature of the events that were about to unfold. Strangers of all colors, creeds and backgrounds greeted each other with broad smiles, saying “Happy Inauguration Day” to passersby.

Somehow I didn’t hear too many people complaining about waiting in frigidly cold temperatures for hours (30 degrees was as warm it got all day). The people gathering at the National Mall were too busy experiencing the ceremony to grumble.

Austin and I split up for the inauguration activities. I left early to ride Washington’s subway system from Howard to the National Mall so I could attend the inauguration ceremony itself. Austin traveled on foot to the National Mall later to view the parade.

Several Metro riders took note of the all-day Metro cards that had Obama’s face on them.

He was inescapable.

Families packed into the train. Children held American flags in their hands. The passengers were quiet, but frequently exchanged knowing glances while they checked their maps and listened for the conductor to announce their stop. Today was the day.

A swarm of police greeted us as we walked off the Metro. I had never seen so many badges and National Guard officers in my life. They were walking on foot, patrolling in cars and motorcycles, riding on horseback and gliding around on Segways.

I would later learn that more than 8,000 police officers, half of whom had been brought in from other districts, were maintaining security for the crowds at the inauguration.

When I saw the crowds on Tuesday morning, I understood why.

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