Today was inauguration day and in Cynthia’s words, a day of “collective joy.” After having seen firsthand many of the atrocities done to the city by the United States government (not to mention the state and local governments), celebrating this historic day in New Orleans was perfect for our class. We started the day by gearing up in Obama threads and heading to the Ashe Cultural Center in uptown.
We met many wonderful people, all ecstatic for the exchange of power. One woman told me when we heard the “Star Spangled Banner” that she couldn’t remember when the last time she wanted to sing that song and that “the whole world just changed.” Tears and cheers erupted as Obama took the presidential oath and it was announced that Bush’s presidency had expired and he would soon be flown back to Texas.
We saw some great T-shirts, but by far our favorite was worn by a handsome young man, which said “I like my president like my coffee: strong and black.” Having just turned 18, this was his first time voting.
The best part of the event was that people of all races and walks of life came together to celebrate a step in the right direction and a hopeful new outlook.
For several of us, the celebration continued across the street at Café Reconcile, an extension of Reconcile New Orleans which serves to get underprivileged teens and young adults into the workforce. The staff was clearly in Obama mode as they all wore matching Barack shirts that said “Progress.” They served a special inauguration menu which included some of the best apple pie we’ve ever tasted and which we subsequently coined “Bomb-A** Obama apple pie.” It felt great to enjoy the moment with other young people and to help a program that does so much for the youth of the city.
After our morning of celebration, the group split up to celebrate Obama Day in their own way. We grouped up later in the evening to join the Obama celebration at Tipitina’s in uptown. We watched the performances of three amazing jazz and brass bands (Hot 8 Brass Band, Soul Rebels, and Shamarr Allen and the UnderDawgs). The bands captivated the audience by getting us to shout “O-BAMA!!” many times during the night. It was a late night, but it was a wonderful way to celebrate the inauguration of our nation’s first African-American president.