Cultural center is packed
BY RANDY KREHBIEL and DEON HAMPTON World Staff Writers
Wednesday, January 21, 2009
1/21/09 at 2:28 AM
The Greenwood Cultural Center may not be the National Mall, but it was just as packed and full of enthusiasm Tuesday 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.
A similar if smaller crowd gathered nearby at Rudisill Regional Library.
Desrie Terry was calm as she sat alone against a wall at the library awaiting Obama's inauguration. For more than one hour, she didn't speak and her face mostly remained expressionless.
Periodically, the 54-year-old woman nodded her head and kept her arms folded as she watched the screen in front of her.
At times, she stared at a group of schoolchildren across from her. "Any one of these students can be the United States president," she said.
At 11:08 a.m., Terry's silence was broken. She and about 100 others at Rudisill jumped to their feet cheering, yelling and proclaiming Obama the new president.
"Today, more than any other day, I'm proud to be an African-American woman," Terry said. "I wouldn't have it any other way."
For some, the inauguration signaled a general change in the country's directions. For others, it was more personal.
"Many people who prayed for this day didn't live to see it," said Arthur Farahkhan, 61. "Barack is a sign. A powerful sign. God has heard the cries and prayers of our ancestors and former slaves."
Waynesha Turner, 10, of Burroughs Elementary School said, "I can do anything. It feels good to see the first black president."
Back at the Greenwood Cultural Center, after Obama's swearing-in, Eddie Faye Gates, a longtime black Tulsa civic leader, reflected on the moment.
"I am walking on air," Gates said. "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."
Eason 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."
The morning's activities began with a prayer service 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."
Randy Krehbiel 581-8365
Deon Hampton 581-8413
Deborah Brown Community School students Rakiah Smith, 9 (middle), and Nabil Prince, 9 (right), cheer Tuesday as President Barack Obama appears on TV during an inauguration watch party at the Greenwood Cultural Center in Tulsa. JAMES GIBBARD/Tulsa World