1,500 attend Tulsa inaugural watch party
BY RANDY KREHBIEL World Staff Writer
Tuesday, January 20, 2009
1/20/09 at 5:28 PM
The Greenwood Cultural Center may not be the National Mall, but it was just as packed on Tuesday and just as full of enthusiasm for the inauguration of President Barack Obama.
“I haven’t cried so much since my last divorce,” state Sen. Judy Eason McIntyre said moments before the inaugural ceremony began.
The room was set up with seating for 1,200, but that wasn’t nearly enough. By 10 a.m., an hour before the inauguration, every chair was taken and people stood three deep along the walls.
“This day has been a long time coming. Just to be able to see it is something special,” said Corbin Cannon, who stood at the back exchanging text messages with friends all over the country, including one at the scene of the inauguration.”
For some, the inauguration signaled a general change in the country’s directions.
For others, it’s significance was more personal.
“I am walking on air,” said Eddie Faye Gates, a long-time black Tulsa civic leader. “I have waited so long for this. This is a breakthrough. We’re finally there. And I lived to see it. I’m so grateful to God he let me see it.”
McIntyre said she participated in the 1963 civil rights march on Washington, D.C., but never really appreciated the racial divide until she attended the University of Oklahoma a few years later.
“I’m 63 years old,” she said. “What I have now is new hope.”
Many of those in attendance were children. That pleased organizer Princetta Newman as much as anything.
“I wanted the children to have this experience,” she said.
Even seven Brazilian students passing through Tulsa found themselves caught up in the moment.
“We can see how Americans are feeling about it,” said Natalia Viana Tamiasso. “Everybody seems to be so happy.”
“I saw some people crying,” added Everoldo Alves.
The morning’s activities began with a prayer service across the street from the Greenwood Cultural Center at Vernon Chapel African Methodist Episcopal Church.
The service included Christian, Jewish, Muslim and Hindu representatives.
Presbyterian USA minister Mary McAnally said she was arrested during the 1963 Washington, D.C. march and noted that “today’s march on the Capitol is something else entirely.”
Deborah Brown Community School students Rakiah Smith, 9 (middle), and Nabil Prince, 9 (right), cheer as soon to be President Barack O'Bama appears on TV during an inauguration watch party at the Greenwood Cultural Center in Tulsa. JAMES GIBBARD/Tulsa World