Maudlyne Ihejirika: February 2009 Archives
Like the Fraziers, many of the 103 travelers on the "Road trip to the White House" came with their families.
Others came with best friends.
However, for some, like Tamii Harris, 47, of Park Manor, the inauguration of America's first black president was important enough to go it alone.
Tamii Harris, 47, of Park Manor, shows off the official inauguration t-shirt distributed by the tour group operator to her travelers on a "Road trip to the White House."
"From the beginning, I wanted to go, and everyone else was flaking out," Harris said.
"I'm going because I owe it to myself. I owe it to Obama. I owe it to my mother and grandmother and Rosa [Parks] and Corretta [Scott King] and all the other women whose shoulders I'm standing on," she said.
"I want to be able to tell my own children and grandchildren I was there."
Inauguration-bound, they came with their hopes. They came with their dreams.
And right behind them were the street vendors.
No, this wasn't Washington, D.C. Not yet. This was 87th & the Dan Ryan, where the Frazier family of Marquette Park gathered with 96 fellow travelers to hop two charter buses bound for D.C. on a three-day "Road Trip to the White House."
A vendor boards the "Road trip to the White House" charter bus to sell her wares.
Ecstatic and exhausted.
Fantastic and fulfilling, but freezing.
They'd ridden a charter bus back to Chicago after going to Washington for President Obama's inauguration. Afterward, the 103 Chicago area participants in this particular "Road Trip to the White House" bubbled over trying to describe the experience -- and how they believe it will help shape their futures.
As they returned home -- with memories and souvenir buttons decorated with Obama's visage and emblazoned with the words "I was there" -- and settled back into life in Chicago, they talked of what they'd witnessed and spoke with a sense of ownership of their new president.
Among them was Linda Vaughn, 65, of East Chicago.
"She's the primary reason I'm here," Vaughn said of her 8-year-old granddaughter Chynna Vaughn.
Linda Vaughn, 65, of East Chicago, is the third woman from the left, with the gray and purple head scarf. Her 8-year-old granddaughter, Chynna Vaughn, is on the right, wearing the black sweater.
When the Frazier family embarks this morning on their "Road Trip to the White House," their inauguration experience will be in the hands of a young, South Side tour operator who targeted those whom she calls "Barack Obama's people."
Purely Destinations owner Ivory Coats, 25, initially knew only that she was going.
"The night he was elected, I said, 'I'm definitely going to the inauguration!' '' Coats said. "Then I said, 'Ivory, why just you? People are going to want to be a part of history.' "
Purely Destinations owner Ivory Coats
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.' "
Seventeen-year-old Ryaan Frazier, who has played basketball since sixth grade, has always been taller than her peers.
So the 5-foot-10 high school junior was particularly gleeful when Barack Obama won -- not just because he made history, but because his soon-to-be first lady also has height (almost 5-foot-11).
"Michelle Obama is going to make a great first lady," said Ryaan, a forward and center on Chicago International Charter School's basketball team.
"She represents tall well. She's pretty, smart and very confident. She exudes self-respect and power. When I see her, I know there ain't no stopping me."
Though they're only second-graders, Semaja Frazier and Brian Jackson feel a personal stake in the inauguration of the president-elect.
Just about every Saturday between August and Nov. 4, 2008, the two could be found door to door canvassing for then-candidate Barack Obama in Hammond, Ind.
"We helped him win," said Semaja. "I'm excited. Now we're going to Washington to see him be the first black president. I can't wait."
Semaja Frazier, 8, and her cousin Brian Jackson, 8, beside a Barack Obama project in the hallway of their school.