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Thoughts on the occasion

Post by John Henrikson / The News Tribune on Jan. 20, 2009 at 1:57 pm with No Comments »
January 20, 2009 1:57 pm

More familiar faces in the crowd from Les Blumenthal in D.C.

WASHINGTON – There were more than just politicians at the inauguration.

Take Les Purce, president of The Evergreen State College. The great-great grandson of a Virginia slave, Purce was 40 yards away when Barack Obama was sworn in.

“It was electric,” Purce said. “I could not help but think about my great great-grandfather and his family. All these people had such great hope. We made a great leap today. I’m searching for words.”

Others also struggled to put it in perspective.

“For me it was overwhelming,” said Leslie Braxton, a senior pastor at a Renton church who grew up in Tacoma’s Hilltop neighborhood and as a 9-year-old was bused to a virtually all-white school five miles from his home. “I got a little teary eyed.”

Braxton said his grandfather always said electing an African-American president would never happen, but his grandmother would scold him and tell him it was up to God.

“Things change,” Braxton said. “It may be slow, but it is happening.”

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