MC

Mississippi College

Mississippi College Watches Obama Inauguration

January 20, 2009

Stopping at the Leland Speed Library for coffee and crowding around two TVs to witness President Barack Obama's historic inauguration Tuesday was the route taken by scores of Mississippi College students.

On the day after the Martin Luther King Jr. national holiday, more than 100 MC students plus faculty, and staff members got an up-close look on FOX News as Obama took the oath of office as America's 44th president.

"Our Presidential inauguration is America's best example of Democracy," said library director Kathleen Hutchison, who opened the facility's doors to growing crowds minutes before the 11 a.m. (Central Time) ceremony in a chilly Washington, D.C. "As I looked around during the ceremony, it was heartening to see so many of our students taking such an interest in the changing leadership."

The library's Learning Resources Center was the gathering spot on the Clinton campus as MC students mingled with professors and staff to see Obama become the nation's first African-American president with the same Bible that belonged to President Abraham Lincoln. He addressed the country about the many challenges ahead from two wars to the economic crisis.

"Forty-four Americans have now taken the presidential oath," Obama said as thousands in Washington looked on despite the freezing winter weather. "The words have been spoken during rising tides of prosperity and the still waters of peace. Yet, every so often the oath is taken amidst gathering clouds and raging storms."

The former Illinois senator spoke of the tough challenges before him, but added: "Know, this America - they will be met."

Wearing a shirt with the message "Change Can Happen" and featuring pictures of Obama and Vice President Joe Biden, MC senior Bevelynne Thornton said, "I'm glad I'm here to witness this...it's kind of indescribable."

From the invocation by Pastor Rick Warren to singer Aretha Franklin's rendition of "My Country Tis of Thee," to the Obama speech, the 20-year-old from Tylertown was moved by Tuesday's ceremonies. So were many of Thornton's classmates. Some applauded when Obama finished the words of the ceremonial oath to succeed President George W. Bush.

"It is the start of a new beginning," said MC freshman Alphonso Seals, 19, a Terry High graduate, from his seat at the library. "Hopefully, it will be a better life for everyone the next four years."

MC freshman Thea Dixon, 18, of Raymond noted the new president will face many difficult problems on the domestic front and around the globe. The first thing she wants the Democrat to do is "make a difference with the economy."

Obama's wife, Michelle, and daughters, Sasha and Malia, joined him for the ceremonies in D.C. that continued a day loaded with inaugural events - from a parade to a blitz of inaugural balls. A number of Mississippians made the journey to Washington for the festivities by plane, bus and car. Police projected inaugural crowds between 1 million and 2 million people.

But for most folks in the Magnolia State watching TV, listening to the radio and getting the news from computer screens was the more popular choice.

Photo: MC faculty members join students at the Leland Speed Library to watch the inaugural ceremony of .