published Monday, January 21st, 2013

Chattanoogans in Washington to see history made again

KING DAY EVENTS

Here is a listing of local events today in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

11 a.m.: Peace, Love and Unity Service at Memorial Hospital. Dr. Rozario Slack, of Temple of Faith Deliverance Church of God in Christ, will be the speaker.

Noon: Second annual Dreamers in Action Luncheon at Salvation Army's Recreate Cafe

4 p.m.: Memorial March from Olivet Baptist Church to Tivoli Theatre

5 p.m.: Main program, Tivoli Theatre

Wilhelmina Hogg missed President Barack Obama's first inauguration. She was determined not to miss his second one.

Hogg, 63, is one of an estimated 800,000 people from across the country, including hundreds from Chattanooga and Cleveland, Tenn., who are descending on the nation's capital for the second swearing-in of the nation's first black president.

The public ceremony is scheduled on the national holiday observance for the late civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., putting a simultaneous spotlight on two of the most significant black figures in the American saga.

"This is history, and I want to be a part of it," said Hogg, who brought her niece with her. "I want to see what takes place with my own eyes."

She is among nearly 100 Chattanoogans who loaded up on a bus trip organized by funeral home director and pastor John Taylor. About 30 students from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga also will be in the crowd.

And that's not all.

Lee University's Festival Choir, 200 singers strong, will perform before the official swearing-in ceremonies at noon today.

And Andrea Cagle, chef instructor at the Culinary Institute of Virginia College School of Business and Health in Chattanooga, will cook at the inaugural balls and receptions.

RaSharon King rode 13 hours with Taylor's group to get to the inauguration. The group took its time through the snow in Virginia and also had to slow down because of roadside accidents. But the riders all arrived in Washington safely.

King spoke Sunday while having dinner in Union Station.

"This is a big deal. You don't expect it [having a black president] to happen in your lifetime," she said. "We've come a long way since the civil rights movement."

Winston Clay, a 17-year-old junior at the Howard School, was among five students who went on the trip. He said he was proud just to see Obama run for president, and is even more proud Obama has been re-elected.

"This is a man who came out of his comfort zone to lead a nation," said Clay. "When odds are against him, he's able to turn the odds around, and with God's help he will make this a better nation."

Lillie Johnson remembers standing for six hours in the cold in 2009 to see Obama's first inauguration. This time her two daughters and two granddaughters will be with her.

"It was like the clouds opened up," said Johnson, recalling the 2009 event. "I didn't see the thousands of people in front of me. I wasn't tired from all the walking. I was just overjoyed to finally see a black man in that position."

Many people thought Obama's first election was a fluke, Dr. Everlena Holmes said. National efforts to restrict voting by limiting early voting hours, requiring photo ID and other obstacles actually had the opposite effect, Holmes said, spurring turnout among blacks and Latinos.

News reports indicate the inauguration crowd today will be well below the 1.8 million estimated to have attended the 2009 ceremony.

But seeing Obama as president gives hope to all people, said Dr. Sylvia J. Greene, a local retired educator of 30 years who will be in Washington today.

Greene said she remembers the pride she felt when black characters started playing roles other than maids and servants on television. But she never thought she would see a black president.

Jesse Jackson, who ran for president in 1988, said to keep hope alive, Greene said.

"We need to have a hope and a passion for the future," she said. "President Obama gives us hope that we are fulfilling Dr. King's dream."

about Yolanda Putman...

Yolanda Putman has been a reporter at the Times Free Press for 11 years. She covers housing and previously covered education and crime. Yolanda is a Chattanooga native who has a master’s degree in communication from the University of Tennessee and a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Alabama State University. She previously worked at the Lima (Ohio) News. She enjoys running, reading and writing and is the mother of one son, Tyreese. She has also ...

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