Frazier family and millions witness historical Obama inauguration

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Pamela Frazier listens to President Barack Obama's inauguration speech.

(Washington, D.C.) -- For many average folks that traveled here for the inauguration of the nation's first black president, today was about the battle, in so many ways.

The battle for racial equality. The battle for their share of the American Dream. The battle just to get onto the National Mall.

The Frazier family of Marquette Park set out on their mission Tuesday to bear witness to history, three generations together -- matriarch Pamela Frazier, her two children and six grandchildren.

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The Fraziers disembark from their designated charter bus parking area on U Street and begin the two-mile walk to the Capitol for the inauguration ceremonies.

And they did, eventually, with Pamela's hanky chasing tears as Obama accepted the presidency.

"It was emotional," she explained later. "Because I had my grandchildren there, and I could just envision what their lives were going to be because of the change our new president is going to bring to the world.

"I could feel them internalizing everything, wanting to see him, wanting to hear him, and looking at their young, mesmerized faces, I knew that they got it."

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Sixteen-year-old Michael, III videotapes President Barack Obama's inauguration speech.

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Seventeen-year-old Ryaan Frazier hoists her sister, Semaja Frazier, 8, atop her shoulder during President Barack Obama's speech, so Semaja can try to get a glimpse of him.

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Ryaan and her cousin Bryan Jackson, 8, salute as the U.S. Marine Corps Band starts to play.

But it was only through luck that the Fraziers, among 103 people from the Chicago area who attended a three-day group bus trip themed "Road Trip to the White House," saw anything at all.

And their experience was perhaps representative of the inauguration for the masses.
Unanticipated obstacles got them to the Capitol at 9 a.m., two hours later than suggested. The west mall was already closed, and at the east mall, they hit a brick wall of what seemed millions of people.

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Attending the inauguration with the Fraziers were a shoulder-to-shoulder sea of people as far as the eyes could see.

After two hours of trying to maneuver, they gave up.

Finding a spot among the thousands sharing the same fate, they resigned themselves to bearing witness only through the loud speakers that at that distance, began crackling with the day's main event.

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The family finds a spot outside the gates that have closed off the National Mall, and settle in.

Then suddenly, security at the gate for those holding silver tickets permitting them onto the mall, gave up the fight to check tickets, just as the introductions began. Seeing their chance, the ticket have-nots swarmed forward, the Frazier children pushing too, with the adults close behind.

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Michael III notices the crowd surging into the Mall and takes off to join it, calling his family to come on.

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As security gives up guarding one gate to the National Mall, the crowd sees its chance, and makes a break for it, surging onto the Mall.

In the end, they were close enough to catch obstructed glimpses of TV screens, but clear transmission of the proceedings.

Young faces were glued. Ryaan, 17, Michael III, 16, Mylon, 13, Asia, 12, and Brian and Semaja, both 8, were in a trance. With the crowd, they hooped and hollered: "Obama! Obama!"

"It was spiritual," said another member of their tour group, Farid Shabazz of Naperville, who came with his girlfriend, Eurydice Crockett of the South Loop, and her mother, Hilda Crockett of Hyde Park.

"It was like a jubilee with my ancestors. All the questions were answered today about what you can or cannot do. No more about what we can't do. It's now about what we can do."

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On the Mall, the Fraziers and the crowd are content just to hear the proceedings, even if they can only catch occasional glimpses of what's happening on the Capitol steps.

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Ryaan and Semaja's mom, Lataunya Frazier, 38, takes in the moment.

And the message of can was reiterated many times during the day, especially during Obama's inauguration speech. "Yes, we can!" the Frazier children yelled at the prerequisite moments.

And yes, they did. The Frazier clan witnessed history. And they came away changed.
"I felt good," said Michael, III. "Because a black man was making history. Barack Obama is making a change for black people. They always point to the bad about us, but he has lifted us up, forever. I'm glad I didn't miss this."

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Pamela Frazier can't hold back the tears, after President Obama recites the final: "So help me God."

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Twelve-year-old Asia Wright gets into the moment with Grandma.

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About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Maudlyne Ihejirika published on January 20, 2009 6:46 PM.

Frazier family tour group leaves hotel this morning for Obama inauguration was the previous entry in this blog.

A day to remember: Images from the inauguration of President Obama is the next entry in this blog.

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