Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Inauguration '09: Perspectives at the Baker Center

by Ellen Schnier

Inauguration Day, 2009, exceeded many others in energy, anticipation and excitement. The nation's first African-American president--for many a beacon of hope and a symbol of change--was sworn in as the 44th President of the United States of America. Taking office just after noon, President Barack Obama was overwhelmingly welcomed by millions of people, crowded onto the Mall in Washington, D.C., hoping to witness a part of history.

Hundreds of Ohio University students and members of the community gathered at the Baker University Center to watch the events of the day. On a movie theater-sized screen, they watched the new president speak about the challenges we face as a country. We are in the midst of "gathering clouds and raging storms," he said, but we must come together. "Today I say to you that the challenges we face are real. They are serious and they are many. They will not be met easily or in a short span of time. But know this, America: They will be met. On this day, we gather because we have chosen hope over fear, unity of purpose over conflict and discord."

Many African-Americans thought this day would never come, but rejoiced in the words of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who said 45 years ago that he could imagine a day when a black man would be President of the United States. Evident through the tears of African-Americans in Washington and at the Baker University Center, this dream was fulfilled on Tuesday. President Obama recognized the breaking down of racial barriers, that we have "emerged from that dark chapter stronger and more unified." He put the scope of his position into context. "This is the meaning of our liberty and our creed--why men and women and children of every race and every faith can join in celebration across the magnificent Mall, and why a man whose father less than 60 years ago might not have been served at a local restaurant can now stand before you to take a most sacred oath."

At OU, African-American student and basketball player, Adetunji Adedipe, reacted to watching the inauguration of the nation's first black president. He said, "It means a lot, because it shows a big step has been made in our country towards equality. It shows a kind of breaking the stereotypes, the color barrier and everything. It just shows that things are really changing."

Adetunji Adedipe speaks about what this inauguration means to him.

Also attending the screening of the inauguration were international students. Mr. Obama's election created excitement, intrigue, and anticipation among the global community--many countries eager to extend a hand to the United States. In an address to the international community, President Obama reasserted his belief in our position as a world power in saying, "And so to all other peoples and governments who are watching today, from the grandest capitals to the small village where my father was born: Know that America is a friend of each nation and every man, woman and child who seeks a future of peace and dignity, and that we are ready to lead once more."

Sven Latzke, an OU graduate student from Germany said, "The whole world has lost respect for the United States and I think it's gonna come back. And he's gonna demand something from us. But I think the German people are willing to give more, if it makes sense. Under George Bush it just seemed to be not reasonable. So I think if it makes sense we all want to contribute." In a spirit of reconciliation and open to change, Latzke hopes that Mr. Obama can make an impact and work with the international community.

Sven Latzke hopes for the rebuilding of America in the global community.

A graduate student from Kenya, where Barack Obama's father was born, Josiah Zachary Nyangau, speaks about the historical nature of the event and its impact on the world. "His inauguration means a lot to people in Kenya, of course everyone is in a joyful mood and it's kind of an inspiration that no matter the challenges you face and no matter the challenges we face as a people, however tall they may be, with determination, we can overcome them." Uplifted by Mr. Obama's speech, Nyangau said he was inspired and proud "that finally the segregation and all those stereotypes have been kind of shattered by his inauguration."

Josiah Nyangau, from Kenya, talks about the importance of President Obama's election.

In welcoming talks with foreign nations, though, Mr. Obama ushered a warning to enemies in saying, "We will not apologize for our way of life, nor will we waver in its defense, and for those who seek to advance their aims by inducing terror and slaughtering innocents, we say to you now that our spirit is stronger and cannot be broken; you cannot outlast us, and we will defeat you."

Mr. Obama stressed that American citizens have a responsibility to work for the renewal and betterment of the country. "This is the price and the promise of citizenship." While we have traveled far, we have many challenges ahead that will require our sacrifice. "Starting today, we must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and begin again the work of remaking America."

This hope for the future was shared by Dianne Bouvier, an employee in the Institute for Equality at Ohio University. Encouraged by his words, she says of the new president, "I just get the sense that he's humble. And that he knows how daunting everything is, but that he's got the spirit that's gonna help us move forward. It's an event; it's part of our shared history. It just made me feel like, yeah, I needed to see it. I needed to be here to be a part of it, too."

Dianne Bouvier is moved by witnessing history in the making.

Around 1:00 pm, students, families, and community members returned to class or to work, after taking a break to be a part of history taking place in Washington, D.C.

1 comment:

Baker-University said...

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