In January, 2010, the Obama inauguration changed history. For the first time ever a black man had been elected President of the United States of America. From the day of the elections, until the day of the Obama Inauguration there was non-stop media coverage about the upcoming event. To the extent that the Obama Inauguration itself was almost anti-climatic.
I work for a 90 yr old African-American woman. She was raised in the south, the descendant of slaves. The Obama Inauguration to her was the culmination of a lifetime of watching her family history evolve. Born in the early 1900s, she heard stories of slavery still fresh in the minds of her kin. They still struggled with rights and equality. She remembers hearing Dr. King. She married an Army soldier, who was one of the first black officers in the US Army. She travelled abroad, and has pictures of officers clubs where hers and her husbands were the only dark ones. Yes, the Obama Inauguration was a dream come true for many elderly black men and women.
Working for a black family, being a white woman, during this time is a learning experience. The old saying, about never judge a man unless you have walked a mile in their shoes is so correct. Being the “servant minority” to these people has helped me better understand their world. My 90 yr old lady was driven in the back of a car, sick with the flu, unable to walk, but not willing to give up the right to vote for a black man for the office of president. The Obama Inauguration was not to be taken lightly by Ms. Gussie.
Then came the onslaught of magazines, newspapers, memorabilia, all to be collected and preserved. There were Obama Inauguration magazines before New Years. I was asked to tape the whole day before, during , and after the Obama Inauguration. Not a moment was to be missed, not even a party, or the reviews the next morning.
And after the Obama Inauguration, these people had a new lightness to their step. They felt justified as people, as equals, as Americans. No longer Africans Americans. Just plain Americans who happen to have dark skin. Yes, the Obama Inauguration was making a change in their heart, their mind, their walk, their lives. I didn’t vote for him, yet for these, my people and my friends, I was happy!