Michael Frazier, Jr. never thought he'd live to see a black president.
Inset: His brother, Marquis Wright, a flight attendant, is taking a week off to attend the inauguration.
Michael Frazier Jr. describes himself as so many other Americans -- living
paycheck to paycheck.
So the 36-year-old South Sider says he can't afford time off from his Museum
of Science & Industry job to join his family on their "Road Trip to the
His mother, Pamela Frazier of Marquette Park, is taking nine family members
on the three-day bus trip to the Capitol.
Going are Michael's two sons, Michael III, 16, and Mylon, 13, who he
believes need to witness the inauguration of a black president.
"I love my boys to death," says the father, struggling to keep them in an
apartment in upwardly mobile Beverly with his wife of 15 years.
"I'm grateful they'll be there to witness history -- a president sworn in
that looks like them. I never thought I'd see it," he says.
Neither did his younger brother, Marquis Wright, a Southwest Airlines flight
attendant who took a week off to go to the inauguration. He's flying in
Friday because most flights from Saturday are booked solid.
"I just have to go," says Marquis.
"I have to give honor and thanks to this black man for even allowing himself
to run, against the odds. You know it wasn't supposed to be. But through
Barack Obama, Martin Luther King's dream -- everything King fought for and
believed in -- is coming true."
Marquis says he expects to feel the way he did during the 1995 Million Man
March, which Pamela also made sure her sons participated in. He says, "It
will be emotional."
His brother says Obama has given him hope.
While Marquis left college after 21Ž2 years when hired by Southwest, Michael,
a DuSable High grad, has worked blue-collar jobs the past 20 years -- a
Bennigan's waiter, a Mitsubishi Motors plant worker, housekeeping at the
Congress Hotel, a laborer at the Chicago Cubs warehouse.
Michael's goal at one time, however, had been to go into electrical
"I have to work hard to take care of my family. It's always a paycheck from
being homeless," he says.
"When Obama won, I wanted to scream, shout, everything. It made me realize
it's never too late. I want my sons to be able to do things that I couldn't,
to not have to struggle so much," the father says.
"That's why I'm so glad they're going, so they can see and know, 'I can do
anything.' And though I can't be there, a part of me will be, in them. I've
told them I want to know everything that happens."