Last month, I wrote an article that included mention of “Mills On A Mission,” a contingent of a dozen Mills College students who banded together to raise funds for a week-long trip centered on the inauguration. The young women wanted to bring the event’s feelings of power and momentum back from the National Mall to Mills’ campus, and they decided a team effort was best.
Sadly, they didn’t make it onto the Mall today. Even having caught the first Metro train from Alexandria, Va., and making it into the city by 5 a.m. EST, they got caught in a massive crowd behind a Mall gate that never opened, organizer Tracy Peerson-Faye told me a few minutes ago.
“We basically got corralled down the street and had nowhere to go,” she said, describing a scene of thousands packed cheek to jowl, cheering and chanting Obama’s name but “as the hypothermia started to set in” growing more and more frustrated. Finally, as a police bus moving down the street forced the crowd into an even smaller space, “we had to leave because it was no longer physically safe for us to be there.”
They linked arms and fought their way out through the crowd – “We had to find a place to go and try to warm ourselves” – and resolved to head for the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian, where they knew the swearing-in would be viewable on a big screen. They could see the Capitol’s dome from there, a bittersweet reminder of how much closer they’d almost gotten.
“But even within the (museum) building, there was an atmosphere – this energy of the crowd, of excitement, I think almost a feeling of being overwhelmed by the significance of what today was,” she said.
This just in from U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., chairwoman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee and sometime Oakland resident:
Today, as I watched Barack Obama be sworn into office as our 44th President of the United States, I was overwhelmed with pride and emotion, and reminded of what is best about this country.
As someone who lived through the civil rights movement and saw African-Americans shunted to the back of the bus, I cannot help today but think of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who forty-seven years ago stood on steps of the Lincoln Memorial and spoke of his dream—that his four children would one day live in a nation where they would not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.
Today, that long-awaited, long-fought-for dream of equality has been realized.
And while we must celebrate this extraordinary, historic moment in our nation’s history, we also must heed the call of President Obama who told us that, “starting today, we must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and begin again the work of remaking America.”
The challenges we face today are as difficult as any I can remember in my adult lifetime—but I am confident that we have elected a President who has the fortitude and wisdom to lead us to a better future.
In foreign policy, it’s a new day, as our President said America is willing to extend its hand to the world if people will unclench their fists.
I stand ready to help our new President every step of the way as we work to turn our economy around, bring a responsible end to the war in Iraq, and confront the many challenges facing us- from healthcare to education to protecting our environment.
I am ready to work for the change we all believe in.
Tim Evans, 32, of San Francisco just sent us these photos, where pranksters altered signs along San Francisco’s Bush Street with “Obama” signs (click to enlarge):
Signs all along Bush Street had been changed with paper printouts attached by double-faced tape. “I thought, ‘My God, that’s great. What a bunch of merry pranksters,”’ Evans said.
Andy Stone, head flak for Rep. Jerry McNerney, D-Pleasanton, sent me these photos from the inauguration ceremony this morning.
Meanwhile, here is what McNerney said about Obama:
“Today, we celebrate an extraordinary moment in American history as Barack Obama becomes America’s 44th President and the first African-American to lead our nation. It is truly a historic day and this is a great new beginning for our country. President Obama’s inauguration renews faith in the power of ordinary Americans coming together to create monumental change”
“I look forward to working with President Obama to address our country’s urgent priorities: reversing the course of our economy, creating millions of new jobs, especially those through new energy technology, making health care more affordable and keeping America safe and secure.”
This just in from Times reporter Elisabeth Nardi, who is at the Lesher Center in Walnut Creek for the Obama inauguration.
“Hundreds gathered at Lesher Center in WC. CSPAN plays on large theater screen. A shot of Schwarzenegger on the screen draws jeers from the crowd. One woman in line said it’s weird to take the morning off from work and still get up early.”
Interesting about the jeers for Schwarzenegger. It happened in Richmond, too.
Hat tip to the Sacramento Bee’s Capitol Alert for noting that the East Bay’s own California State Treasurer Bill Lockyer is governor-for-a-day, what with Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and everyone else above Lockyer in the line of succession — Lt. Gov. John Garamendi, Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, Assembly Speaker Karen Bass, Secretary of State Debra Bowen and Attorney General Jerry Brown — in Washington, D.C. today for Barack Obama’s inauguration.
I’ve e-mailed my congratulations to the “governor,” and asked whether he intends to sign a budget later today. No answer yet; I’ll keep you posted.
UPDATE @ 8:48 A.M. TUESDAY: Lockyer spokesman Tom Dresslar says:
“the little five meeting will take a few minutes. we’ve got the legislature ready to go. just waiting for the inaugural speech to conclude.”
Hmmm. Joking? Dunno.