Thursday, January 08, 2009

Any Day Now

Barack Obama announces his economic plan today, and his presidency unofficially begins. But the official part comes in less than two weeks, and the excitement is building. This is the official Inaugural poster! I strayed to the Huffpost's Style page the other day, and almost everything was about the Obamas and the Inauguration. But for all the glitter, what's really exciting is that it's the people's Inaugural--and Washington especially is taking it to heart. The people of Washington, that is, who voted for Obama by a margin of 93%: “For D.C., this inauguration is less like hosting a visiting official and more like throwing a homecoming party for a family member,” said Ronald Walters, a professor of government and politics at the University of Maryland. Dr. Walters added that normally the inauguration was an exclusive black-tie affair. “This time,” he said, “it feels like the city has taken ownership of what is becoming a people’s party.”
The Times story recalls the parts of the city that were burned during the 1968 riots following the murder of Dr. Martin Luther King. I worked in one of those sections nearly a decade later, when it had still not recovered.
But things are different now. “What happened here along U Street on election night when Obama won was the exact inverse of those race riots,” said Mr. Ali, recounting how on Nov. 4 the streets filled with racially diverse crowds who were initially kept out of traffic by a large and somewhat jittery police force. Eventually, he said, the police opted to close down the area and let the partyers celebrate freely.
Across the Anacostia River, in one of the city’s poorest sections, Thomas Thorton, 82, sat waiting for a bus. “For us, for this side of the river, the inauguration is personal,” Mr. Thorton said, standing in front of the hilltop Washington View Apartments, not far from the former home of the abolitionist Frederick Douglass.... “This city considers Obama as one of our own,” Ms. Mukabane said, “and I think that will show on inauguration."

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