Obama ‘opening up’ doors

Cindy Von Quednow

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Sitting on the shoulders of his grandfather, 4-year-old Sean Patrick Henderson knew why he was at the nation’s Capitol on Jan 20, in 20-degree weather.

‘I want to see the president,’ said the toddler awaiting the inaugural parade of recently sworn-in President Barack Obama.

His grandfather, Rev. Lee Henderson, of San Jose, Calif., wants to make sure Sean remembers this moment by taking lots of pictures and showing them to him when he’s older.

Although they are a generation apart Sean and Lee are bound by the electricity coursing through the city on this historical day, the inauguration of the first African-American president of the United States.

‘It’s important for black and white children all over the world to realize that they can do anything no matter who they are or the color of their skin,’ Lee said.

According to CNN polls, Obama received 96 percent of the black vote, 67 percent of the Latino vote, and 63 percent of the Asian vote.

Hailing from Indianapolis, Devante Bluitt, 16, watched the inauguration along with millions in person.

‘I realized that if you want to do something and put your mind to it anything is possible,’ said the high school student.

Obama defeated the odds despite people’s opinions of him and the color of his skin, he said.

‘He’s opening up doors and breaking down the color barrier,’ Bluitt said.

The people that voted for him and made their way down to the Capitol and National Mall filled the streets of Washington, D.C. to witness first hand the outcome of their vote.

Call it historic, call it groundbreaking, call it awe inspiring, but for those who were there or watched on their televisions or computer screens across the globe, this marks the beginning of a new era, one of hope and change.

Some onlookers were brought to tears as they basked in the moment that was unfolding before their eyes that will impact past, present and future generations.

Kelly Smith, 26, and her sister Danielle, a law student at Loyola in Louisiana, traveled to the Capitol, after their mother bought them tickets to the inauguration.

‘The election was very invigorating for our family and I’m sure for people all over the US and the world,’ Danielle said. ‘I think this is a historic election for everyone, not just African-Americans, because Barack Obama is an inspirational figure.’

He’s an intelligent man who is here for all people, Danielle said.

‘It’s not about black people, it’s not about white people, it’s about people as one,’ she said.

‘I feel like an American not (necessarily) a black American.’

Her sister Kelly agreed that Obama’s win inspired unity in all people.

‘The spirit here is wonderful and I am happy to be a part of it,’ Kelly said.

She mentioned a piece on CNN that looked at people that black kids looked up to. It found that three years ago they were more inclined to idolize African-American athletes as opposed to politicians and public figures.

However, with Obama now running and winning the presidency the same kids who looked up to Michael Jordan now look up to Obama.

To Kelly, this is proof that Obama is not only reaching out to the younger generation, but also causing an impact on the way they view themselves and their aspirations.

‘That’s very inspirational,’ Kelly said.

Amani Williams, 10, a local Washingtonian joined the millions of others who for a day changed the city she called home.

‘I think this is cool to witness history in the making,’ Williams said. ‘For all us kids because we are happy to have a black president as a leader that is ready to fight for our country.’