Road Trip to the White House: Obama 'chosen by God,' 79-year-old says

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Her parents made their way to Chicago in the Great Migration, settling in the Near South Side ghetto then part of the city's Black Belt.

Margie Edwards, 78, of Englewood, has vivid memories of growing up during segregation, of Jim Crow laws and the newcomer called King, of marching hand-in-hand with strangers in Selma.

So when a newcomer came along 45 years later, she was skeptical.

"I said, 'Boy, he don't stand a snowball's chance in hell,' " said Edwards, whose daughter Pamela Frazier is taking Edwards' eight grandchildren and great-grandchildren to Washington for Barack Obama's inauguration as president.

"But I see him one time, and he's got 5,000 people with him, then the next time you looked, he had 50,000 people. It just kept mushrooming," she said. "That's when you think to yourself, 'This young man has got to have something on the ball.' "

Edwards won't be making the "Road Trip to the White House," a three-day event by a South Side tour operator involving two days on a bus there and back, and hours on the National Mall for the ticketless.

That much standing and sitting didn't sit well. And her sight's going.

But she sure wishes she could go.

"Oh, God, don't you know it, honey! The night he won, I just sat here and cried and cried.

"I said, 'Lord, to think I could live to see a black man be president!' You know, you always say that anything can happen, but you have just a little doubt. Then, when it comes to pass, you say, 'Thank God almighty. We're free at last!'

"I think that he was chosen by God. And I hope when he makes his speech, that the first thing he says is, 'Thank God.' Because I do believe that this is his time, this is his season, and that he can make the change he's been talking about."

Edwards was an only child. She said her parents gave her the best they had. She went to college in Atlanta but got homesick in two years.

She came home, met a man, started having kids -- three girls. Later, as a single mother and good at bookkeeping, she got a string of good jobs herself -- at the then-Passavant Hospital, now Northwestern; at CBS Radio; the Hyde Park YMCA, and the now-defunct Kragness Animal Hospital, where she retired after 20 years.

She has rented the same house in Englewood for 22 years, sharing it with a bull mastiff named Kodi; Rink, the cat, and Bruce, a goldfish.

On a recent day, she recalled the events of her life she thought never would have added up to America inaugurating its first black president.

"I remember visiting Cincinnati as a a kid, and a water faucet that was so filthy, with a 'colored' sign on it, and a clean one to the side that said 'whites only,' " she said.

"They had restaurants called cafes, with two sides. On one, blacks could come in and buy food, but couldn't eat. On the other side, they had little stools where you could sit and eat, and that was the white side.

"I remember when I was in Mount Airy, Ga., and the circus would come to town. When they left, they would leave the cages on wheels there to use as the black folks' jail.

"I still remember sitting by the radio, as they reported about Gov. George Wallace standing at the door of Alabama U., declaring no black children would step across, as those two kids tried to get in.

"And the Selma march. ... It was scary, but everyone was just holding hands, and you didn't know whose hands you were holding because there were black, white, Chinese, Mexican, everyone. You were just a dot in the crowd."

Her family, the Fraziers, will be just a dot, too, when Great-Grandma is glued to the TV Tuesday. But grandkids promise blow-by-blows.

"This black man's got his work cut out for him. You got a lot of discrimination today," Edwards said. "You got some diehard people that's not going to ever change, and then some changing slowly. He's going to have to ask the Lord to make a way for everybody because God's the only one who can change us."

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This page contains a single entry by Maudlyne Ihejirika published on February 3, 2009 2:58 PM.

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