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Houstonians Celebrate History

Houstonians assembled in churches and schools across the city today to witness the Inauguration of President Barack Obama. More than a hundred people gathered at Wheeler Avenue Baptist Church in the heart of the Third Ward.
Laurie Johnson was there.


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People of all ages, from toddlers to teenagers to grandparents, stood in respectful silence as President Barack Obama took the oath of office.

“And will to the best of my ability preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States. So help me God.”

Most of the people at Wheeler Avenue Baptist Church took time off from work or school to watch this moment with other people from their community.

Edna Besiant sits near the front, waving an American flag. She’s one of many in attendance who never expected to live to see a black president.

“In this place, here at this church and at other churches here in this city and all over the world there are people who are gathered together for this particular event. And I know of no other time in history that any such event has occurred. And that’s important to me as an Afro-American, but even more important, it’s important to the world that such an event is occurring.”

Across the room, Daryl Harris stands with his wife and their two daughters and son. He says it was important for them to watch this together as a family.

“And to see Barack Obama be sworn in as the president is a marked place in time, not only for us but for the future generations that we’re raising. Our daughters and our son, it’s a mark in time that we felt would never be again repeated obviously. And it’s a moment that they’ll be able to reflect with their children when they get older ‘I participated. I was there. My mom and dad made sure that I understood the magnitude of what’s going on.”

And Harris says Mr. Obama’s speech was just what the country needed to hear.

“It was a dose of reality. We are on tough times, not only economically, but humankind. We struggle, we fight with one another and now is the time that we need to unite. So his unity portion of his message was extremely uplifting.”

Uplifting is the right word to describe the emotion here. People filed out clapping, cheering, crying…but most of all smiling.

Laurie Johnson. KUHF-Houston Public Radio News. 

image of hundreds of people gathered at Wheeler Avenue Baptist Church in the heart of the Third Ward

Hundreds gathered at Wheeler Avenue Baptist Church to watch the Inauguration of President Barack Obama.

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Laurie Johnson-Ramirez

Laurie Johnson-Ramirez

News Director

Laurie Johnson-Ramirez leads news coverage for Houston Public Media across broadcast and digital platforms. Ramirez is a native Houstonian who started her career at Houston Public Media in 2002. Before becoming News Director, Ramirez held the position of Executive Producer for Daily News, leading daily and breaking news coverage, helping...

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