Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Massive crowds head to National Mall to witness history + Comment


Massive crowds head to National Mall to witness history

National Mall
Ron Edmonds, Associated Press
Crowds gather early on the National Mall for the swearing-in ceremony for President-elect Barack Obama in Washington
By Frank James and Jim Tankersley
Reporting from Washington -- In the early January morning's dark chill, people moved by the tens of thousands through the streets of Washington, D..C., hoping to stake out positions that would allow them a view of one of the most historic moments in the nation's 232-year existence, the inauguration of President-elect Barack Obama as the first African-American President of the United States.

Bundled up against temperatures that hovered below 20 degrees, the pre-dawn crowds appeared on pace to meet expectations that perhaps two million or more would gather on and near the grounds of the Capitol and along the Pennsylvania Avenue parade route. For many, it was a moment many thought they would never live to see.

The subway system which serves the Washington metropolitan area, known as the Metro, opened at 4 a.m., two hours earlier than normal, to serve the expected crush of visitors. Indeed, the first trains to reach downtown were crowded though not as densely packed as warnings from officials in the days leading to the inaugural had led many to fear.

On the trains, an air of anticipation and celebration prevailed. On one train heading into downtown Washington from the northern Virginia suburbs, whites and blacks, seniors and children, talked excitedly with each other.

"Things will never be the same," a black man from Chicago was overheard saying to a white man from Vacaville, Calif. "I was completely apathetic about politics. Hated it," the white man responded. "But Obama inspired me."

The trains contained not just Americans but foreigners too. Among the most noticeable, two Kenyans of the Masai ethnic group wearing traditional shuka blankets over their winter wear who had come to celebrate the inauguration of a president with Kenyan roots.

Shortly after 4 a.m. a line of would-be inauguration spectators stretched half a block down E Street. At its end was a security checkpoint, not yet open. Beyond lay the National Mall and, nearby, the route for Obama's inaugural parade.

A steady parade of people spilled out of the nearby Metro station and marched south toward the checkpoint, past taxis delivering more revelers and vendors hawking t-shirts, calendars, newspapers and snacks.

Some smoked cigarettes and cursed the cold. Some guzzled coffee from the Starbucks on the corner. Some chanted, some cheered, some snapped pictures or filmed one another with camcorders, their narration occasionally lost in the blare of sirens as police cars whizzed by. The security line quickly swelled to more than a block and spilled off the sidewalk.

African-Americans comprised much of the early crowd, and many of them marveled at the imminent inauguration of the country's first black president.

"He's our first – our first everything," said Jane Tillman, a 45-year-old African-American secretary from Easton, Md., who brought her 16-year-old daughter to watch the parade. "And I need to be here, to breathe the same air, just to have been here."

Turning to her daughter, Jasmine, Tillman smiled and said "She's going to tell her grand-babies she was here.."

College students also turned out in force. Three of them stood near the Starbucks – two from American University in Washington and a friend who drove down from Boston University – after waking at 3 a.m.. and riding the first metro in from Northwest Washington.

"It was wild," said Jared Alves, 18, an American freshman who canvassed in Northern Virginia for Obama during the general election. "I'm not even sure how we got on the train we did."

Alves and his friends – 18-year-olds Carol Foster of American and Jordan Farrer of Boston University – said they were headed for the Mall with a simple hope: to stand in sight of the Capitol, where Obama will be sworn in.

Cold aside, Farrer called the atmosphere in line "simply electric."

"This is the reason I drove all the way down here," he said, "not to really see something, but to be with people."

-- Tribune Washington Bureau

Comment: We wish President Obama well. At heart, he is a good man and a great humane being who is open to learning, expanding and listening to the voices of others. We must make our voices be heard in our homes, in the streets, in community meetings, in our churches, in our own homes and especially on the Internet where we can reach out to more people on a global world level. Senor Barack Obama fought a great campaign that was Internet-savvy, compassionate and intelligent. It is obvious that he is the best man for the job during these tough troubled times. We are happy for all Americans and peace-loving people throughout the world, in particular African-American people who still suffer so much economic poverty, social oppression and are still often victims of assorted forms of vile racism.

It seems like Latinos and social issues specific to Latinos have been pretty much kept ouf of the loop, but we are around in our millions as was evidenced a few years back with the Grande Marchas for the rights of immigrants in general and Mexican immigrants in particular. At the bottom line. the core life issues of Latinos are the core life issues of all humane beings and involve the daily struggles just to survive with sanity in these troubled times. We must see our common basic needs: food, clothing, shelter, medicine and basic education. The theme is survival, pending total liberation.

We are all going to have to change, develop and expand our cosmic consciousness far beyond its present mass level. Human beings upon Mother Earth are one race, one species and this species of homosapiens are indeed an endangered species. We are destroying the ecology of the planet, there is a great climate crisis. nations are still into their selfish nationalism and have not achieve a strong identity with each other with an international global outlook that encompasses all of us no matter where we are living upon Mother Earth. Worse of all. people are still greatly divided, both inside and outside the United States of Amerika. We are divided based upon concepts related to economic class, nation, race, ethnic group, tribe, sex and other social divisions.

The progressive democratic elements inside the United States must raise their own consciousness above split concepts of left-wing vs. right-wing and come to understand that the truth is in the middle. The great eagle needs both wings to fly high. We will never get ahead with old out dated European concepts related to Marxism and other revolutionary theories that fail to factor into analyses the living existence of the majority of the people of the world: the Third World of Latin America, Africa and Asia. Marx was a racist!

We need a new revolutionary humanism that explores the cultures, languages and ways of living of non-White-European peoples residing in the Third World. We need to look at concepts related to democratic socialism versus corporate capitalism. Corporate capitalism is a failed economy and is destined for doom and destruction. Corporate capitalism simply does not work as a viable economic system for the majority of humankind. We need to at least be open to exploring other economic systems that are conducive to our basic well-being, our common welfare and essentially feeding our families!

The citizens of the United States can play and are playing a key role in all human relations upon Mother Earth. We still need to evolve to a consciousness of ourselves as world citizens, see ourselves as one people, identity the true enemies of humankind and keep marching forward towards total liberation for all poor and oppressed natives of Mother Earth.

Education for Liberation!

Peter S. Lopez aka: Peta

Email: peter.lopez51@yahoo.com

Key Link: http://www.NetworkAztlan.com

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