By Christie L. Chicoine
CS&T Staff Writer
WASHINGTON – A contingent of Catholics from across the Archdiocese made history by attending the inaugural ceremonies of U.S. President Barack Obama Tuesday, Jan. 20, in the nation’s capital. According to news reports, a crowd estimated at 2 million gathered for the inauguration of the nation’s 44th president outside the U.S. Capitol building.
Saadiq Jones, a seventh grader at Annunciation B.V.M. School in South Philadelphia, was invited to attend the inauguration through his participation in the Junior National Young Leaders Conference in Washington, D.C., part of the Congressional Youth Leadership Council.
Saadiq, a 13-year-old African-American, described the country’s first African-American president as “a determined man” who will “lead America into the future.”
Although saddened by the history of slavery in the United States, Saadiq said now, with Obama, “It makes me proud that we were able to go this far.”
Obama’s presidency sets a precedent and because of that, Saadiq believes African-American youths will quickly learn there are no barriers to what they can achieve.
Although Saadiq currently has no political aspirations – he plans to pursue a career in science or engineering – he is happy he made national history by attending the inauguration.
And he appreciates that his school, which held an assembly on campus Jan. 16 to raise funds to help defray the cost of his trip, helped him make that history happen.
Kendall Norman, 60, a member of the parish pastoral council at St. Cyprian Parish in Southwest Philadelphia, coordinated a bus trip from St. Cyprian Church to Washington for the inauguration. An African-American man himself, Norman said never in his lifetime did he think he’d see an African American elected president.
“His speech was fantastic,” Norman said by cell phone after the president’s inaugural address. “He spoke about how we have to unite the world, because it’s changing.” That, Norman added, pertains to “all races, all nationalities, all colors.”
Philadelphia Police Officer Renee Hanton, 53, an African-American and member of St. Therese of the Child Jesus Parish in the Mount Airy section of Philadelphia, was scheduled to work the parade route on Washington’s Pennsylvania Avenue following the inauguration.
Hanton said she was one of 300 Philadelphia police officers who reported to Washington to assist with the inaugural ceremonies. “Protecting my president” and keeping the crowds safe are honors, she said in a telephone interview from Washington late Monday afternoon, Jan. 19.
Because the parade followed the noon inauguration, Hanton was unavailable for comment when The CS&T went to press Jan. 20.
At St. Therese, Hanton is an extraordinary minister of holy Communion, lector and choir member.
As she prepared to absorb the “awesome moment” through her work in Washington, Hanton said she planned to “make the city [of Philadelphia] proud.”
CS&T Staff Writer Christie L. Chicoine may be reached at (215) 587-2468 or email@example.com.