VOL. 124 | NO. 13 | Wednesday, January 21, 2009
Civil Rights Museum Crowd Watches History in Works
By WOODY BAIRD | Associated Press Writer
MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) - A museum dedicated to the history of the civil rights museum drew a crowd on Tuesday of people eager to see history being made in Washington.
The museum is on the site in Memphis where civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King was assassinated in 1968, but about 700 people gathered there Tuesday to watch a live broadcast of the inauguration of President Barack Obama.
Yavette Montague, 38, of Memphis brought her daughter Kristen to see the swearing-in.
"This is the place where Dr. King was shot and it's amazing that here we are 40 years later and we're swearing in the first black president," Montague said.
Museum Director Beverly Robertson said her museum was a singularly appropriate place to see the inauguration.
"We have chronicled key episodes of American civil rights history for years and this is making history," Robertson said.
Hundreds of students at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga watching the inaugural ceremonies on big screen cheered as Obama emerged at the inauguration and again when he was sworn in.
Students attending the Delta Sigma Theta sorority-sponsored event at the student union building took group photos to remember the occasion, as Obama encouraged in e-mails. They ate sandwiches, chops and salsa and a red, white and blue inauguration cake.
Kelvon Yancey, a 21-year-old junior from Knoxville, said he was excited about America having a different president who has worked to help the downtrodden.
"He seems like a person who really cares about people. Obama has been at the bottom," Yancey said.
UTC junior Sean Nix, 21, feels a special connection to Obama because of his race.
"I feel that I must live up to what he has called the nation to do, which is come together and take on the hardships we all must endure," Nix said.
"I am overwhelmed with joy, mainly because my grandparents and my great-grandparents aren't alive to see this and I say that credit goes to them for making it happen."
Tyler Forrest, 21, is a junior at UTC and a member of the college Republicans. He, like most voters in Tennessee, supported John McCain for president.
He was working to put partisan divisions aside on Inauguration Day.
"I think on the inside, of course, you hope there might be a failed moment. But a true American really wants their president to succeed," said Forrest, who is from Athens, Tenn.
Forrest, the student member on the UT board, said he expects President Bush to be remembered as one of America's greatest presidents. "He's a spectacular person and we all owe him a lot of gratitude," Forrest said.
Forrest said he hopes Obama can help the failing economy because "it is what is happening to every American."
Two Nashville residents spent Tuesday looking for government assistance because they are out of work.
"I'm a certified medical assistant and I cannot find a job," said Jewell Battle, 25 and the mother of two children. She was at the state Department of Human Services to get food stamps. "I want to see more jobs so we won't have to come here and apply for benefits. "
Jay Daniel, 25, was also getting family assistance from DHS for his two children and hoping the Obama administration can improve the economy.
Daniel has been unable to find a job after spending most of his adult life in the Army. He said he served as an infantryman in Iraq before receiving a medical discharge in 2007.
Warren Albert, 57, is homeless and living at the Nashville Rescue Mission.
"I'm mainly hoping that he can change this job situation," Albert said.
Associated Press writers Bill Poovey in Chattanooga and Lucas L. Johnson II in Nashville contributed to this story.
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