Okay, I’m exaggerating. I know I’m not the only one excited for the President’s second inauguration, but I’m getting tired of people saying that attendance for this event will be significantly less than in 2009. I’m in my mid-30’s and seven years ago I thought I’d never see a black President in my lifetime. For the first inauguration, I flew to Washington, D.C. and stood in the freezing cold for hours so I could witness that historical moment. I just went to DC on 12/12/1212 for a wedding and I don’t want to go back until the weather is nicer. So for this inauguration, I was determined to convince my boss (the owner at the black news talk radio station in Chicago, WVON) to let me organize an inauguration party, but everywhere I turned I kept hearing and seeing predictions for a low inauguration turnout and participation.
Maybe people don’t realize that 2013 is the 50th anniversary of the pivotal events in 1963 Birmingham that sparked the American Civil Rights Movement. Events like an afternoon at a lunch counter, a thousand arms linked at the elbows, a firing line of water hoses, a pack of German Shepherds, a letter from a Birmingham jail, and a devastating explosion killing four little girls. As you read that list, I guarantee pictures from those events flickered in your mind. Those snapshots and images highlighting the injustices and violence that African-Americans endured were broadcast to the world and were the catalyst that ignited a nation’s change. 2013 is the 50th anniversary of the death of Civil Rights activist Medgar Evers. As the first NAACP field secretary, he fought to overturn segregation at the University of Mississippi and was gunned down in his driveway by a member of the White Citizens’ Council. His murder and trial inspired civil rights protests, as well as numerous books, art, music, and films. And 2013 is the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream Speech” at the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. No matter how many times I hear or read that speech, I get goosebumps. Dr. King’s powerful oration challenged America to make good on the bad check given to the Negro and fulfill its promise for democracy and equality.
January 21st, 2013 is not only inauguration day. It’s also the national holiday observing Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday. This is the fulfillment of a dream declared as “the greatest demonstration for freedom in the history of our nation”. When I realized the double significance of the date, I asked my boss, Melody Spann-Cooper, to let me organize a WVON Inauguration Party. She told me WVON had an inauguration party in 2008 and over 500 people came, but she wasn’t sure people would be as excited this time around because the economy is suffering. I was determined to convince her that the party would be a success again.
I support my president. He took office when America was already deep in a recession and war. He also has to fight tooth and nail with hostile Republicans who would rather make him look bad than help him cure the country. Plus, the American government and economy are massive ships that take time to turn around. The Titanic hit the iceburg not because they didn’t see it, but because they couldn’t move that behemoth machine out of the way fast enough. President Obama is a scholar, a role model, and a gentleman. I’m sure he’s not doing everything perfectly (let he that is cast the first stone), but I feel good having him at the helm. People may not have the fact that he’s the first black president to celebrate this time, but they should celebrate with him since this will be his last inauguration to the nation’s highest office due to the two-term restriction. They should also celebrate because who knows when another person of color will be elected POTUS. And when I say they, I don’t just mean black people. This inauguration should be celebrated by every race, color, creed, religion, gender, and every other politically correct classification. This inauguration demonstrates that those with a “thirst for freedom” are stronger than those “drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred.” This inauguration is a testimony to the idea that “we cannot [and do not] walk alone…and we cannot [and have not] turn(ed) back.” This inauguration is the hope, faith, and brotherhood emanating from the “land where my fathers died, land of the pilgrim’s pride, from every mountainside” letting freedom ring. This inauguration is the fulfillment of a dream and we need to celebrate that we are that much closer to being “Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!”
I predict that inauguration turnout and participation will be just as high, if not higher than in 2009. They predicted low voter turnout for President Obama's second election and yet I had tears in my eyes every time I saw the long lines to early vote and on election day. I can't wait to prove the pundits and nay-sayers wrong again. Stay warm if you’re going to the event in DC. And if you’re in Chicago, celebrate with me at WVON’s Inauguration Party at the Grand Ballroom. My boss agreed to have a party and the WVON listeners are ringing the phones off the hook to get tickets. 2013 is also the 50th anniversary of WVON 1690AM which is the only African-American news talk radio station in Chicago and on the IHeartRadio platform and one of the last remaining African-American owned and operated radio stations in the United States. WVON is the Talk of Chicago and we can't wait to see you at our party!
Click here for more details on the WVON Chicago party.
Click here for more information on the city of Birmingham’s 50th anniversary celebration.
Click here to read Dr. King's "I Have a Dream Speech". (excepts included above)
Deanna Burrell is an account executive at WVON and the author of the explosive novel, Single Girl Summer.
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